«Let the Spektakel begin»
The festival headquarters in downtown Kirkenes, Norway, buzz as volunteers, artists and curators from festival organizer Pikene på Broen («Girls on the Bridge») make final preparations for the 12th Barents Spektakel.
«We are ready, let it begin», Hoffman proclaims. The art director leads the cultural event which over the years has won wide national and international recognition.
The event comes just weeks after floods of refugees crossed through the small border town on their way transit from Russia. In the middle of that migrant crisis, the local mining company busted leaving hundres of locals without jobs. In addition, political relations with Russia continued to sour, and sanctions and counter-sanctions have filled the lives of border citizens with unease.
«These are complicated times for Kirkenes», Hoffmann says.
No wonder, this year’s festival has got the title «Rethinking location». On the festival poster is displayed an island bustling with industrial activities, both processing plants and wind power generators, reindeer herding and tourism.
«It is always good to rethink your place when you believe you already have defined it», Hoffmann says.
As always, the Barents Spektakel focuses on the nearby border. And this year, festival activities on the Russian side are more embracing than ever. For the first time, one whole festival day will held in Nikel, the Russian border town. On Sunday the 14th, locals in Nikel can experience the festival exhibition, artist workshops, dance shows and performances. And it is not only for the Russians.
«A bus will take off from Kirkenes on Sunday at 9 am, and Norwegians are all most welcome to join», Hoffmann underlines. «All you need is a visa».
According to Hoffmann, local authorities in Nikel have been very cooperative and event preparations on the Russian side have progressed smoothly.
«This is really important for us. We call it a cross-border festival, and we need to cross borders».