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Becomes garbage if nobody will have it

The art hut at Sjøområdet must be gone by Oct. 1. The artist will remove it if no one wants to take it over.



Becomes garbage if nobody will have it
The art hut at Sjøområdet must be gone by Oct. 1. The artist will remove it if no one wants to take it over.

At the beginning of August, Solveig Egeland's trash hut at Sjøområdet stood finished. Garbage from the Governor of Svalbard's annual coastal cleanup cruise was used to build the artwork meant to be a warning about the role of trash in ruining the ocean. The cabin has been visited by many families with children on weekends, but after barely two months it must now be removed.

"We have permission from the Longyearbyen Community Council to allow the cabin to stand until October," Egeland said. "I've not received any inidications that someone wants to take it over. The idea was that there should be a temporary installation for visualizing garbage in the ocean. If it is so that this is something people will use, it's something I will see to."

Considering storage
If it turns out that people want to continue using the cabin, the artist is suggesting finding a place to store it and then put it back in June.

"But it is clear it costs some money to get carried it out with a crane," she said. "I do not know how realistic it is. It's a bit up to people to think what opportunities are available. I do not know how far up on the shore the ice goes in the winter and if it is an option that the cabin can be standing in the winter too."

Birgit Hanseid Bendiksen is one of those who want to keep the cottage.

"It is good to have a place where it is possible to go in," she said. "If it can not stand where it stands, it would be nice if it could come to the schoolyard, a playground or a daycare."

She said she thinks it would be sad to destroy the cabin.

"We want to preserve Svalbard and this is a visible sign of that," she said.

Not to the city government
Astrid Meek, a senior development advisor for the Longyearbyen's municipal government, said leaving the building beyond Oct. 1 will require an application for extension of the deadline and someone who will take responsibility. They will be responsible for the cleanup and removal of the building for any new deadline that is set.

City Manager Lars Ole Saugnes said it is not appropriate for local government to take over the cabin.

"As chief administrator, I cannot take responsibility for more buildings than those adopted in the budget," he said. "Politicians can ask me to make a case regarding whether the hut can stay longer. But I have a sense of the structure and think it's great."

Before Tuesday's local community council meeting, Chairwoman Christin Kristoffersen asked if any of the parties had placed the hut on the political agenda.

Got six-figure support
Egeland received 350,000 kroner from the Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund for the cabin project, a sum that caused Anne Lise Klungseth to expression opposition in letters to the editor published in Svalbardposten.

"I think it is a foolish use of money," Sandvik said. "I would like to see proof that someone has gained something out of it."

Egeland said she agrees the sum is a lot of money.

"But I've been working on it for two years," she said. "The materials do not cost much, but planning, concept development and implementation of a large project costs time and energy."

The artist said the money covered flights, accommodation and food for a team of ten people, in addition to salary.

"I am hoping it will eventually become more legitimate to live and work for nature and the environment," she said. "For some reason it seems that some believe such activity should be run by volunteers, but it is acceptable to earn millions on an activity that pollutes the ocean."

The artist said she is an environmental management graduate and could have chosen to work for a bureaucracy But she would rather use art to contribute an environmental message reaching more broadly and more people.

When will she make a decision about what to do with the cabin?

"I must first receive some signals, so I must take a position on it before Oct. 1," the artist said.

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