Ask The Artist
Gregor Sailer about the project "The Polar Silk Road"
Five countries border the Arctic Ocean: Denmark (through Greenland), Canada, Norway, Russia and the USA. Finland, Iceland and Sweden also have territorial areas. In addition, indigenous peoples live in the region, but this area is very sparsely populated due to the hostile conditions. There are three sea routes that, depending on the time of year and the extent of the ice surface, allow a crossing of the Arctic Ocean. In the future, the melting of the sea ice will create a shorter trade route - the so-called polar Silk Road - and provide access to new raw material deposits (natural gas and oil). States inside and outside the Arctic are making claims.
In a long preparatory period, Gregor Sailer not only researched those places that were particularly exciting thematically, geographically and visually, but also took on the laborious and often lengthy task of obtaining the necessary access permits. He repeatedly embarked on photographic expeditions lasting several days to military bases, research facilities, ports, and oil and gas production sites. Utopia and dystopia lie close together in Sailer's images. Despite their sobriety, the calm, concentrated images are highly charged with content, yet many of these places seem like ramps to nowhere.
The exploration of the Arctic is closely linked to the beginnings of photography. When explorers set out to explore the unknown region of the world in the second half of the 19th century, photographers were always part of the expedition. Sailer thus follows a long photographic tradition. With The Polar Silk Road, he presents a major photographic achievement that gives us a deep insight into this region, which is extremely important both economically and militarily as well as scientifically.