Should I Stay or Should I Go, a song by the Clash and used in one of the videos we created during the project, summarises the dilemma pointedly. Living or leaving Murmansk, the largest city above the arctic circle, far away from many young people’s dream of living a metropolitan, exciting and stimulating life.
Benno Voorham spent two weeks in Murmansk in 2018, facilitating and guiding this project with a group of artists and art-students from different disciplines. Listened to their stories and to the stories of people we interviewed. Looked for clues why people decided to leave or stay in this city at the northern edge of Russia, reasons that went beyond the obvious clichés. Searching for a sense of poetry in the stories we collected, looking for movement, drama, theatre.
What were the lost and found dreams of those who left Murmansk, came back to Murmansk or never left or considered leaving this city. Many of the dreams that people have about finding a better life elsewhere, are circling around the perceived reality of opportunities in relation to their personal ambitions. Many people that left or consider leaving live with the impression that bigger cities like Moscow or St. Petersburg will provide them with more and better opportunities for self-development and fulfillment.
One of the most interesting answers in the interviews we conducted came from a woman in her 30’s. Asked why she wants to stay in Murmansk she answered: “Because there is nothing here”. In one short sentence she opened her world of dreams, of opportunities. Because there is nothing, you can create something, maybe anything.
It tells also about the reality that the city is not providing much, if anything, for its citizen. But what can we do when our expectations are low towards what a city provides for its citizens. You can leave, which is what many people did and are considering doing, or you can create better conditions with others, independent from existing structures.
The project did not pretend to find answers. Instead it offered a moment to reflect and to create a temporary community of people struggling with the same questions. The two weeks processing resulted in a poetic, sensitive and at times humorous presentation of the different works we created together.
Participants: Aleksey Tcalko, Roman Gladyshev, Maria Filippova, Aleksandr Kozin, Nadezhda Pozdnyakova, Aleksandr Shevchenko, Anna Potashova, Viktor Koski and Alina Popova
Producer: Irina Ivanova
Photos by Aleksey Tcalko
The project was implemented by Lava Dansproduktion in cooperation with international festival “Barents Bird”.
Supported through the Creative Force program of the Swedish Institute.