NIGHT LIGHT: Storytimes by international residents around town, an art legend’s 30th anniversary, a torchlight walk and hymns bring shine of Kunstpause to first all-dark weekend

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Don’t mistake the absence of sun for an absence of light.

The last wisps of twilight are vanishing from Longyearbyen as the polar night takes full force, but bright-minded locals are again welcoming the coming dark season with an assortment of art, literature, music and more during the annual Kunstpause festival that continues through Sunday.

Those wanting to escape the chill can illuminate their souls with free gallery and museum admissions, while those embracing the elements can join neighbors on a midday walk along the beach with torches and an evening with five international storytellers in a walking triangle of locations near the center of town at Skjæringa.

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A blue-hued photo of a mountain near Longyearbyen is part of the exhibit “New Cyanotypes” by Elizabeth Bourne, on display at Barbara Foto & Ramme through Sunday. 

The festival officially opened Thursday evening with a showcase by local art and craft makers at Galleri Svalbard, highlighted by a new exhibition by Olaf Storø, whose lithographs and paintings have made him perhaps Svalbard’s most famous artist during the past 30 years. His exhibit, which translates roughly in English to “The Thing That is When The Thoughts Have Gone,” features works from the past three decades on various materials from canvas to driftwood an remains on display during the festival from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

“No questions are stupid, because they always have a connection to something else,” he told Svalbardposten, noting he hopes the exhibit prompts people to be inquisitive. “Imagine if anyone here would like to learn how to do this. It is too stupid for the knowledge to disappear.”

“The exhibition is for normal people. It is not for art critics or journalists or other jokers, if you’ll excuse the expression. Everything has a connection.”

Also on display at the gallery is the Longyearbyen Photo Club’s exhibit “Movement,” along with other crafts by local artists.

Another featured art exhibit during Kunstpause is “New Cyanotypes” by Elizabeth Bourne, a follow-up on her debut exhibit earlier this year after the Seattle native moved to Longyearbyen, featuring specially processed images from her time here since. It is on display at Barbara Foto & Ramme through Sunday.

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A schedule details where and what five Longyearbyen residents will read during a Literature Night event at three Skjæringa. locations at Friday night. Schedule by Longyearbyen Library.

Written art rather than visual is the emphasis Friday with a Literature Night event featuring short readings by four authors – each representing a different country – in three locations starting at 7 p.m. Each author will offer multiple readings at staggered times continuing until 9:30 p.m., allowing listeners to visit each place.

“You will first hear the original language for a few minutes, and a reading in English or Norwegian follows for 15 minutes,” an announcement for the event hosted by Longyearbyen Library notes. “Feel free to choose your route, sample the sound of languages you do and do not speak, and get inspired while wandering around Skjæringa.…Bring along a cup if you wish to warm up with coffee or tea. There will be some snacks from the countries we will learn about through the readings.”

Readings are by Silvia Galli (from Switzerland, reading in Italian/Norwegian) and Janet Holmen (Sweden, reading in Swedish/English) in the priest’s apartment at Svalbard Church, Line Nagell Ylvisåker (Norway, reading in Norwegian) at Longyearbyen Kindergarten, and Varisa Photisat (Thailand, reading in Thai/English) and Elke Morgner (Germany, reading in German and Norwegian) at Taubanesentralen.

The annual torchlight march from the coal pier to the center of town which begins at 11 a.m. Saturday will feature a stop at Storø’s gallery in the seaside area of town, where music by local youths will be performed. Youths will get a chance to be entertained themselves with “”Snipp, Snapp Snute,” a fast-paced story/music adventure by Gunnar Dundas and Thali M. Liberman at 2 p.m. at Kulturhuset.

On the final day of the festival researcher Pernille Bronken will offer a presentation on “The strange things in Bjørndalen” at 2 p.m. at Svalbard Museum and a variety of local musicians will perform various “Hymns in the Polar Night” at Svalbard Church at 6 p.m.

Kunstpause 2019 weekend schedule

Friday

• Free admission to Galleri Svalbard, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• 7-9:30 p.m,: Literature night at Skjæringa, Svalbard Church and Longyearbyen Kindergarten: Three authors will read selections of their works (first in their original language, then in Norwegian or English) several times at each location.

Saturday

• Free admission to Galleri Svalbard, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• 11 a.m.: Torch light procession from the coal pier to the city center. Bus from Radisson departs at 10:30 a.m. Includes a stop at Olaf Storø’s gallery where local youths will perform.
• 2 p.m.: Children’s theater performance “Snipp, Snapp Snute” by Gunnar Dundas and Thali M. Liberman. Kulturhuset.

Sunday

• Free admission to Galleri Svalbard, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Free admission to Svalbard Museum, noon to 5 p.m.
• 2 p.m.: Nature lecture “The strange things in Bjørndalen” by Pernille Bronken Eidesen of the Bjørndalen field laboratory. Svalbard Museum.
• 6 p.m.: Hymns in the polar night by various local performers. Svalbard Church.

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