From company towns to fishing towns, international cities to closed cities, military towns to Sámi settlements, confined border towns and merging towns, historical cities and commissioned cities, from infrastructure nodes to deserted towns, Soviet cities to reconstructed cities, the Barents Region’s urban portfolio is as complex and filled with contrasts as it is geographically dispersed. Add arctic climate, tough winters, and seasonal darkness, and you have a region of extreme urbanity.
Introduction to Northern Experiments (www.northernexperiments.net)
The paragraph above is one of many examples where cultural production is harnessed to make an abstract or even emergent concept accessible to the senses and mind. But in this context it is interesting primarily because the combination of verbal images sounds odd. This construction is a rhetorical figure in itself, a catachresis; a mix of conventional metaphors. Yet it could be claimed that it is truer than conventional metaphors. Foregrounding the modern and urban character of the Arctic region, the section focuses on the resilience and nonconformity of landscaping. It is a stark contrast to stereotypical conceptions of modernity as well as of wilderness or rurality: the mental image of high rises and highways versus sparsely populated areas, cultural heritage versus consumer culture, be it of settlers or indigenous people. The place conjured up for these “northern experiments” is no idyll – this new region of the world is conflicted and transforming, both literally and figuratively.