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A replica of the Greenpeace vessel Arctic Sunrise which has been involved in various campaigns agains oil drilling and whaling, was built at 2014 Glastonbury Festival. The Arctic 30 is an installation created on this replica by Anagram, an artist collective specializing in “telling true stories sideways.” The work is comprised of photos and an audio installation that explores the story of thirty Greenpeace activists who were arrested by the Russian army on Arctic Sunrise during a protest against Arctic oil exploration.
As the viewer climbs onto the ship, s/he is surrounded by photos of the activists. On the deck await five funnels, each with a pair of headphones. The signs next to the headsets say: “Greenpeace is just a word, the people behind it are our strength. Real life stories have real people with names, faces and emotions. It wasn’t Greenpeace that was in jail, it was 30 people, 30 activists and crew members. In the words of Sini, Frank, Dima, Camila, Colin and Faiza, this is the story of the Arctic 30.”
For the audio installation, Anagram created a five chapter narrative — the action, the arrest, going into the gulag, life in prison, release — from the interviews conducted by Ben Stewart of Greenpeace. The story unpacks the events that led to Arctic 30’s arrest and the aftermath, in the activists’ own words. After being exhibited at Glastonbury, the installation travelled other festivals alongside Greenpeace, inspiring environmental activism and innovative forms of social issue-driven storytelling.