Alt Går Bra
The Russians Did It
We know that the Russians did poison the Skripals and that they did hack the presidential elections in the USA. But did the Russians really do it?
Alt Går Bra’s project, entitled The Russians Did It, departs from the local position of the border neighbourhood, and attempts to ask a question relating to Norway’s complicated relationship with its neighbour, Russia. The project centres on a historical figure, Ellisif Wessel (1866-1949). A tireless activist, writer, translator, and publisher, Wessel founded the local miners’ union Nordens Klippe and turned Kirkenes into a hub for Communists during the time before the Soviet Revolution. She smuggled political literature including texts sent to her by Lenin in exile, sneaking them into Russia on fishing boats. The Wessel hub also hosted celebrated Norwegian intellectuals including Johan Falkberget, and radical students in Oslo who called themselves «Himmelstormere» after her 1903 poem. Ellisif Wessel remains rather unknown outside Finnmark.
A thread starting with Wessel passes through the partisan resistance and the Soviet Army liberation of Norway from the Nazi occupation, and ends with today’s tensions between Norway and Russia. This thread has a common link: the Russians.
Alt Går Bra’s art project is inspired by the tradition of hand-sewn banners and standards, strongly rooted both in Norway and Russia when it comes to military, religious or trade union symbolic attributes. Ellisif Wessel’s banner for Nordens Klippe, and thereby Finnmark’s first ever 1st May celebration in 1907, inscribes itself in this tradition. Wessel’s slogan on what became known as the «rebellion banner», «Down with the throne, the altar and the reign of money», prompted reactions reaching far beyond its local significance, finally prompting interference by the Norwegian Minister of Justice and even the King.
Alt Går Bra’s installation consisting of 18 standards featuring prominent local figures and events is produced in cooperation with the Murmansk Technical College of Service and under the festival is presented in Nordens Klippe‘s hub – Samfundshuset, in dialogue with the historical local banners and standards.
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