Accepted paper:

Choreographies of darkness and light: encountering Aurora Borealis


Katrín Anna Lund (University of Iceland)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the the image of darkness and its, sometimes, magical effects and how they are staged, narrated and choreographed in relation to Northern Light tourism in Iceland.

Paper long abstract:

Conventionally darkness has been associated with negative forces as it obscures and hides the visually tangible field of daylight and the downside for tourism in Iceland has for long time been its bleak and uninviting dark winters. It can however be argued that increasing presence of Arctic regions in global context has re-evaluated the image of darkness and its, sometimes, magical effects. During the last three years Northern Light tourism in Iceland has been booming and the Aurora Borealis have become an established feature in the portfolio of winter tourism supply in Iceland. However, it is a well known fact that the lights are not to be disciplined, neither by tourist promoters nor the scientific community. Although science can tell you what they are and explain their nature up to some extent the dynamics of their vibrant appearances or non-appearances remain mystery. Fortunately, mystery sells. In this paper I explore the ways in which the Northern Lights, as a product of mystery and the exotic, are an assemblage of heterogeneous mobile substances. These include for example energetic charged particles, Earth's magnetic field, tourists, tour guides, tour providers, weather, transportation systems and, not the least, the flow of darkness. I follow some of the ways in which these are negotiated through creative encounters and performances. I suggest that these are mediated through improvisation and choreographies that entangle human and non-human actors in their play with the elements of darkness and light.

panel P020
Polar mobilities: resilience and transformations (ANTHROMOB)