Mining, Materiality and Memory: Lingering Legacies in Longyearbyen
A Case Study of the Peculiar Afterlife of Longyearbyen’s Old Power Plant
Keywords:mining, materiality, memory, heritage, fragments, Longyearbyen
When the old power plant at Longyearbyen on Svalbard in the Arctic was decommissioned in 1983, the building was earmarked for demolition. However, the presence of asbestos made the cost of removal too high and the building remained closed for more than 35 years. Now, its fate is once again being examined. Ideas for its potential future include establishment as an industrial memorial, a site for cultural events, a tourist attraction and/or a monument “of fossilised time”. Questions of which past is to be remembered, which uses are acceptable, which materiality is to be kept – and in what condition – all permeate the project, which is called FOSSIL. This paper examines different aspects of the project from both a material perspective (Identity of Place) and a human perspective (place-identity), bringing up questions of politics of memory, museumification, and the desired and undesired facets of heritage that the project engages with as it shapes the power plant’s (re)incarnation.
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