Since 1970, average annual temperatures in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, have already risen by 4 degrees Celsius, and winter temperatures by more than 7 degrees. Longyearbyen, the administrative center of Svalbard, is the northernmost settlement on Earth and the warmest inhabited place on the planet. The report Climate in Svalbard 2100" warns that the average annual air temperature in Svalbard will increase by 7 to 10 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. Since 1979, Arctic sea ice extent has declined by nearly 12 percent every 10 years, with the greatest decline occurring in winter in areas around Svalbard and the Barents Sea. The first Arctic summer without ice is now expected in under 15 years. Tourism prior to the corona pandemic has boomed like never before, with cruise tourism in particular increasing.
When Alexander Lembke first came to the Arctic and Svalbard, he was absolutely fascinated by its beauty and felt a deep connection to it that has not diminished to this day. The photographs he will present in the exhibition When the Ice is gone" were mostly taken during various sailing trips and at different times of the year. He often sailed around the archipelago, visiting places not accessible to normal tourism. The images are his attempt to preserve the beauty of the Arctic for himself for eternity, even though it is almost impossible to capture these sometimes overwhelming experiences photographically. Some of the glaciers he has documented for example have already melted so quickly within a few years that they have completely retreated onto the land mass, significantly altering the image of the Arctic expected by tourists.
Alexander Lembke has lived and worked in Svalbard for more than 11 years as an Arctic adventure guide, expedition leader and artist and he prefers temperatures below 10C. Nowadays he is based in Pispala. In his artistic work he deals on the one hand with the influence of modern society on nature, examining the contemporary image of remote landscapes and human intrusion into Arctic regions. On the other hand, he explores social customs of different cultures with a focus on Finnish sauna culture. Depending on the theme, projects are created as exhibitions, as excursions, (spatial) installations, cinematic representations or as collaborations.
Alexander Markus Lembke
Artist / Sauna Classicist / Member Finnish Sauna Society