The Cold Coast Archive: Future Artifacts from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault 

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a particularly postnatural site. Carved into the side of an arctic mountain on the remote Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, approximately 3,800 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, the vault attempts to assemble in one place the most complete archive of agricultural seed the world has ever known. The function of the vault has been compared to the mythological ark of Noah; a biological safety-deposit box; and to a trusted back-up hard drive. In each of these metaphorical examples, the goal is to survive some type of “doomsday” scenario.

Spitsbergen is located in the extreme north. Simultaneously far from everywhere, while nearly equidistant from historical adversaries, Spitsbergen hosts an ecclectic mixture of commercial and governmental representatives. The island has been home to mining operations, scientific research, as well as military and counter-intelligence gathering missions.

Presented here is the work of three artists: Signe Lidén (Norway), Annesofie Norn (Denmark), and Steve Rowell (USA) who visited Spitsbergen in 2011. They returned with a mixture of unaltered historical documents and invented “future artifacts”. The artifacts presented are in some cases ponderous meditations on the complexity of the place and in others, snapshots with clues that there is much to be seen beyond the edge of the frame. They arrive to us with  incomplete references and little explanation, much like the island itself. The Center for PostNatural History provides it for your consideration.

Cold Coast Archive - Steve Rowell, Signe Linden, Anna-sophie Lorn