Arctic Festival 2020–21

The ARCTIC FESTIVAL 2020–21 took place in six cities and towns in the Czech Republic (Ústí nad Labem, Teplice, Prague, České Budějovice, Hradec Králové, Dačice) and online from 6 December 2020 to 31 December 2021. Its extremely long duration was caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Festival was the result of cooperation between Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem and the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromsø with financial support from the Fund for Bilateral Relations within the EEA and Norway Grants 2014–2021. The following institutions participated in the Festival: the Julius von Payer Institute in Ústí nad Labem, the band Už jsme doma, the Museum of the City of Ústí nad Labem, the Regional Museum in Teplice, the Municipal Museum and Gallery in Dačice, the Akropolis Palace in Prague, the Institute of Geophysics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, the Jaroslav Fragner Gallery, Charles University in Prague, the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice, Masaryk University in Brno, the University of Ostrava, the Scandinavian House, Evald Cinema, the Hraničář Public Hall in Ústí nad Labem, Dauphin and Portal publishing houses, magazines A2, Plav and Geografické rozhledy, the sauna and refreshment room NUUK in Hradec Králové, the Embassies of Norway, Canada, Great Britain and Denmark in Prague, the Honorary Consulate of Iceland in Prague, etc.

The Festival was opened with limited visitors’ attendance on 6 December 2020 at the Museum of the City of Ústí nad Labem. Many prominent guests, incl. H. E. Robert Kvile, Ambassador of Norway to the Czech Republic, participated.

The opening was followed by “vernisages” of three exhibitions which remained on view until 27 June 2021:

Igimarasussuk, who ate his wives / Inuit legends through the eyes of Aaron Kangermio (book illustrations).
Sámi Fairy Tales / Illustrations by Luboš Drtina (book illustrations).
Canada’s Arctic: living and vibrant (photographs).

Last year’s successful photographic video presentation South Bering Sea Animals by the Czech-American Stanislav Chládek was shown on a monitor until 27 June 2021.

On 7 December, an online presentation of the “polar“ issue of A2 magazine, the “Sámi“ issue of Plav magazine and the “polar“ issue of Geografické rozhledy magazine took place on the A2’s FB profile and was on view on the Arctic Festival’s website.

The opening of the exhibition North Pole Expedition / Illustrations by Julius Payer (book illustrations and copies of paintings) took place at the Regional Museum in Teplice on 10 December with limited attendance of visitors and remained on view until 1 May 2021. It was possible to watch (also until 1 May 2021) three successful film loops from the Arctic Festival 2019: South Bering Sea Animals (Stanislav Chládek, CZ/US), The Arctic (Bjorn Anders Nymoen, Svalbard) and Made in Nature (Jaroslav Fragner Gallery).

Thanks to the Municipal Museum and Gallery in Dačice, the exhibitions Czechia in the Arctic/ The Arctic in Czechia (the Arctic Festival 2019 exhibition on Czech-Arctic cooperation in science and culture, expanded by three new panels) and 3913 Tasiilaq (photographs by Ole G. Jensen from East Greenland) took place online from 1 to 28 February 2021.

Due to the Coronavirus restrictions in the winter/spring 2021, which did not allow “live“ acitivities, two virtual activities were added to the programme:

On 13 April, a three-hour online scientific and cultural seminar Czechia in the Arctic / The Arctic in Czechia – Echoes of Arctic Festivals 2018–21 was hosted by the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Saint Petersburg. The event. took place in connection with the exhibition of the same name at the prestigious Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) in Saint Petersburg, which was ceremoniously opened on 7 April.

On 11 May 2021, a two-hour online seminar Czechs and Alaska was hosted by the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Los Angeles, which is also in charge of the State of Alaska.

In connection with the Czech Republic’s application for Observer Status in the Arctic Council, the link to the Arctic Festival was included in a separate chapter of the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs www.mzv.cz/arctic.

The autumn part of the Festival opened on 6 September at the Prague club Violino with a presentation of recently published magazines and books with polar themes: African Safari, A2, Plav, GR and Czechs and Alaska.

The main Festival programme – with the participation of foreign guests – took place from 7 to 8 September at the Akropolis Palace in Prague. After theatre performances for children entitled The Smallest of the Sámi (Drama Label) and The Norwegian Fairy Tale (Cakes and Puppets), a festive meeting with foreign guests took place, followed by the opening of three exhibitions with Arctic themes:

Czechia in the Arctic / The Arctic in Czechia: Travelling panel exhibition of Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem, the Julius von Payer Institute, the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromsø the Centre for Polar Ecology of the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice, the University Centre in Svalbard, the Scandinavian Studies Department of the Institute of Germanic Studies at Charles University in Prague and the Fund for Bilateral Relations within the EEA and Norway Grants 2014–2021, presenting the achievements of Nordic and Czech scientists in Arctic research, joint Czech-Arctic research, educational and cultural projects and activities in Czechia and the Arctic, teaching Nordic languages and lectures on the indigenous peoples of the Arctic at Charles University, the Norway Grants role, etc.

North Pole Expedition / Illustrations by Julius Payer: An exhibition of book illustrations and copies of paintings by Julius Payer (1841–1915), the greatest Arctic researcher from the Czech lands and the most famous polar landscape painter ever. The exhibition is based on a new edition of the Czech translation of Payer’s travelogue from 1876 entitled “Norh Pole Expedition“ (Dauphin 2019).

On Thin Ice: A panel exhibition by the Norwegian Polar Institute depicting in breathtaking photographs the story of the research ship Lance, which in the winter of 2015 froze for half a year in the sea between Norway and the North Pole and became a floating laboratory. On board, in addition to the crew and support team, were 68 scientists from 11 countries who were studying the new one-year ice and its impact on climate change. The Norwegian expedition has gathered knowledge that will contribute to a better understanding and predictability of our global destiny.

Three successful film loops from the Arctic Festival 2019 were also presented at the Akropolis Palace: South Bering Sea Animals (Stanislav Chládek, CZ/US), The Arctic (Bjorn Anders Nymoen, Svalbard) and Made in Nature (Jaroslav Fragner Gallery).

The scientific part of the Festival was opened with lectures by seven speakers in English, translated into Czech, followed by a presentation of the book Good Dogs Don’t Make It to the South Pole by Norwegian writer Hans-Olav Thyvold with the participation of the author and translator Eva Dohnálková.

At 6 pm, the travelling exhibition Sent to the North: Czechs as Forced Labour in Norway during the Second World War, prepared by Dr. Vendula Hingarová from the Scandinavian Studies Department, Charles University and photographer Vojtěch Vlk with financial support from the Norway Grants, was opened at Charles University’s exhibition building Campus Hybernská in Prague. The exhibition was on display until 7 October.

In the evening, the festival continued at the Akropolis Palace with a concert by pianist and guitarist Paul Lydon from Iceland and the punk avant-garde band UJD.

The second day of the Festival at the Akropolis Palace was dedicated to a scientific conference in Czech (popular lectures by ten speakers), followed by a presentation of Czech translations of the books Darkness by Norwegian author Sigri Sandberg and A Woman in the Polar Night by Austrian author Christiane Ritter with the participation of glaciologist Marie Šabacká, Czech translators Jarka Vrbová and Viola Somogyi and representatives of the Portál publishing house.

On 9 September, the exhibition Below Zero (documentation of winter or frosty events supplemented by less common artifacts of Czech and Slovak artists) at the Institute of Geophysics of the Czech Academy of Sciences was opened, complemented with a traditional public view of the original painting Starvation Cove (1897) by Julius Payer. Then, Zdeněk Lyčka’s lecture Julius Payer: The North Pole Expedition followed.

On 9 September, several events took place at the Centre of Natural Sciences and Technical Disciplines (CPTO) at Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem (UJEP): an Arctic Conference (introductory words by Pavel Kuráň, Dean of the Faculty of Environment, and lectures by seven speakers in Czech), opening of the exhibitions Czechia in the Arctic / The Arctic in Czechia, On Thin Ice and 3913 Tasiilaq. All three exhibitions were on view until 12 November.

H. E. Ambassador Robert Kvile invited the Czech speakers and main co-organizers of the Arctic Festival 2020–21 to a joint lunch, which took place on 11 September at the Residence of the Kingdom of Norway in Prague (foreign guests were back in Norway and Iceland at that time).

On 3 October, the Arctic Festival moved to Hradec Králové – to the sauna and refreshment room Nuuk on the Blind Arm of the Elbe. A reading from Knud Rasmussen’s book Greenlandic Myths and Legends performed by translator Zdeněk Lyčka took place there, as part of the HikiJoki Sauna Festival.

On 5 October, the opening of the exhibition Greenlandic Myths and Legends /Illustrations by Martin Velíšek took place at the UJEP Scientific Library. The exhibition was on view until 15 December.

The last major event of the Arctic Festival 2020–21 took place on 5 December at the Municipal Museum and Gallery in Dačice, where the exhibitions Czechia in the Arctic / The Arctic in Czechia and 3913 Tasiilaq were officially opened and an Arctic Mini-Conference was held with the participation of two speakers: H. E. Robert Kvile, Ambassador of Norway to the Czech Republic and prof. Josef Elster from the Centre for Polar Ecology of the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice. The announced lecture by Dr. Zdeněk Lyčka, co-founder and main organizer of all previous Arctic Festivals, was cancelled due to the coronavirus isolation of the lecturer.

An important part of the Festival was also the screening of Arctic films, especially in cooperation with Evald Cinema, the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice, Charles University and the Scandinavian House.

The travelling exhibition Expedition to the North Pole / Illustrations by Julius Payer was exhibited during the Festival at the following places: RMT in Teplice, AARI in Saint Petersburg (online), the Bookstore Kapitola in Frýdek-Místek, the Akropolis Palace in Prague, the Ján Bocatius Library in Košice and the Zemplín Library in Trebišov.

The abstracts of all AF 2020–21 lectures in Czech and English are here.

Regional TV Ústí nad Labem broadcast a report on the launch of AF 2020–21, which can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/XNkATnAUp4c.

The Regional Museum in Teplice made a recording from the opening of the exhibition Julius Payer: Expedition to the North Pole, which can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQnI9Dh_RTM.

Many articles have been published in national and regional printed and internet media, e.g. žítteplice.cz (3/12/20), Lidové noviny (5/12/20), Místní kultura (6/12/20), Ústecký deník (8/12/20), Universitas (10/12/12), Český rozhlas Sever (14/12/21), Aktuálně.cz (15/12/20), Živa (1/2021), Právo (7/9/21), Ústecký deník (8/9/21), Aktuálně.cz (14/9/21) etc. Abroad (Poland): Zew Północy (1/12/20).

AF 2020–21 programme in detail is here.