Drifting Frontiers: Narratives of the shifting border of the Arctic Circle is a three-step project—research, on-site expedition, and publication—exploring the architecture and landscapes of the moving border of the Arctic Region.
The Arctic Circle is an abstract border of latitude that binds Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, the United States (Alaska), Canada, Denmark (Greenland) and Iceland together. The borders that separate these countries are geographic boundaries established by political entities a long time ago, yet the Article Circle forms one continuous territory that transcends political delimitations, connecting different cultures and collective imaginaries under one grander environmental identity.
The Arctic’s latitude depends on the earth's axial tilt, which is changing ever-more rapidly due to the loss of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, and water mass in Eurasia, together redistributing the planet's mass and affecting this boundary. This border is moving northwards at a rate of about 14 metres a year, twice as fast as before our climate started changing dramatically—it is one of the fastest changing environments on earth. The glacial melting is changing migratory patterns and ecosystems, and even opening new territories, oil fields, and shipping routes in the Arctic Ocean.
Architecture forms humanity's first response to our surrounding environment, and as humanity's first source of protection against the extremes of our planet it therefore represents our attitudes towards nature and our relation to it. Through a shared knowledge and experience of architecture, urbanism and visualization, and using cartography, social studies, historic and contemporary data and photography, Drifting Frontiers will explore the Arctic Circle's moving frontier. The project will look at this territory transcending national borders, with a special focus on its grander environmental and cultural character.
Richard John Seymour will take photographic accounts of humans' relation to the shifting border of the Arctic—the architecture that constitutes this phenomenon and the landscapes resulting from it. Catarina de Almeida Brito will not only produce the series of expeditions, but also develop maps and contextual knowledge regarding specific locations along the Arctic Circle. They will travel and document selected places along this territory through photography, but also maps, texts and other live accounts they collect. Together they will form Drifting Frontiers, a publication aiming to visually convey the agents and forces that contribute to, and are a result of, the forces at play in the moving border of the Arctic.