Audio-Visual Exhibition - Arctic Women’s Voices: Standing Strong in the Face of COVID-19

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Entire ASSW2023 I Location: The central foyer on the 1st floor near the "Großer Festsaal" of the University of Vienna

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused devastation across the globe, but it has had an immense impact on the Arctic, in particular, due to a number of factors such as the climate, remoteness of the region, and historical underrepresentation of Indigenous communities. However, the impacts and consequences differ across regions and genders. Women, specifically, were disproportionately vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic, such as elevated unemployment, increased unpaid work, domestic violence, and higher health risks.

This exhibition presents women from Alaska and northern Iceland whom we met in 2022. Among them were small business owners, scientists, healthcare providers, farmers, social workers, educators, government officials, and emerging youth community leaders. Inspired by their lives, we invited these women to share their stories to allow us to better understand the COVID-19 pandemic's complex gendered impacts on the Arctic communities and life in the Arctic as a whole.

Their stories introduce powerful narratives of grief and resilience, reflect on feelings of isolation and moments of despair, as well as project boundless optimism and self-empowerment.

Bringing Arctic women's voices to light will help us reflect on lessons learned and broaden our perspective about how dramatic events such as COVID-19 impact Arctic communities and women specifically. Women's voices from the Arctic must be heard to become a part of the broader history of COVID-19.

Exhibition curators: 

Polina Saburova (Indiana University Bloomington) and Marya Rozanova-Smith (The George Washington University).

Poster designers:

Laura Goodfield, Sophie Rosenthal, and Marya Rozanova-Smith (The George Washington University).


First and foremost, we express our deep appreciation to all exhibition contributors who shared their stories with us. Special thanks go to the COVID-GEA project Iceland partners Embla Eir Oddsdóttir and Sveinbjörg Smáradóttir (IACN) and Alaska partner Charlene Apok, Andrey Petrov (UNI), as well as the COVID-GEA team members Riya Bhushan, Sophie Rosenthal, and Laura Goodfield (GWU). We are grateful to Gerlis Fugmann (IASC) and all ASSW-2023 organizers, especially Olga Povoroznuk and Khaled Hakami (University of Vienna), for their valuable support. We also acknowledge funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation (project entitled "Understanding Gendered Impacts of COVID-19 in the Arctic (COVID-GEA)," PLR #2137410).

Arctic Infrascapes

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18-23 February 2023 I Location: BIG Hörsaal

Opening: 18 February, 18:00. 

The exhibition Arctic InfraScapes presents interim results of several ongoing research projects focused on the Arctic and its infrastructures. It displays the artifacts collaboratively created by artists and scholars. Its semiotics develops through visual and verbal modes of communication that are based on various representations of distance, time, and space within the ontological frameworks of the Arctic infrascapes. Working with different types of layers in space and time, artists and scholars co-create new meanings and forms of visual narratives as part of transmedia storytelling.

The exhibition is a part of the program organized by Vera Kuklina (George Washington University, USA), and Olga Povoroznyuk (University of Vienna and Austrian Polar Research Institute, Austria) in a collaboration with partner projects within the framework of the program that presents the multiple ways of convergence of Arts, Science, and Local & Indigenous Knowledge (ArtSLInK). It combines science sessions, a roundtable, and an exhibition.


Vera Kuklina (George Washington University, USA), Olga Povoroznyuk (University of Vienna and Austrian Polar Research Institute, Austria)


James Temte (USA) and Olga Zaslavskaya (Hungary) 


  • NNA Collaboratory: Collaborative Research: Arctic Cities: Measuring Urban Sustainability in Transition (MUST) (NSF, # 2127364)
  • NNA Research: Collaborative Research: Frozen Commons: Change, Resilience and Sustainability in the Arctic (NSF, # 2127364)
  • Informal Roads: The Impact of Unofficial Transportation Routes on Remote Arctic Communities" supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF, #1748092)
  • Building Socio-Ecological Resilience through Urban Green, Blue and White Space (SERUS)
  • ERC Advanced Grant Project InfraNorth – Building Arctic Futures: Transport Infrastructures and Sustainable Northern Communities  (PROJECT-ID: 885646)

Contact person:

Olga Zaslavskaya This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Women in Polar Science

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Entire ASSW2023 I Location: Festsaal

Opening: 21 February in the afternoon coffee break

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 06602118551

 This exhibition is part of the project Representations of Gender in Northern Arts and Sciences. See the full program here


"People doing cool stuff": Against the odds, against external and internal obstacles, and in the most beautiful, hostile, and rewarding areas of the world, amazing work gets done every day by (extra)ordinary women. This exhibition showcases the work of #100PolarWomen in the Arctic and Antarctic. Come on a journey with 15 of them in this exhibition! This exhibition is curated by the Women in Polar Science Network and the IASSA Working Group Gender in the Arctic. Funded by IASC, The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, The Ocean Foundation, SCAR, Arctic PASSION.

More info: and

Teenagers without land

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19-25 February I Location: Foyer

Svalbard is an Arctic archipelago at 78 degrees parallel north under Norwegian sovereignty, with its biggest settlement of Longyearbyen (pop. 2,500). The majority of the inhabitants come from Norway, but about 38% are non-Norwegian. In 2021, there were over 100 children living in Longyearbyen with other than Norwegian citizenship. Almost 60 were in school age. About 30 children come from the Philippines, there are children from Thailand, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine, Germany, Finland, Denmark and other (altogether almost 20) countries worldwide. Not only do these children meet a very particular Arctic place, but their lives are also impacted by the specific Svalbard legislation. Issues often related to migration, such as transnationalism, hybrid identities, language barrier or racism are amplified by the Svalbard legal landscape. Social services, health care and access to education are limited, years lived in Svalbard do not count for gaining a residence permit or Norwegian citizenship. Migrating to Svalbard does not mean the same as migrating to Norway, and the challenging experience of non-Norwegian children living in Longyearbyen is heavily under-communicated, both in Norway and internationally. The exhibition is a joint project of a social anthropologist, a photographer and five great kids. Zdenka Sokolickova (2019–2022 guest researcher at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo; now postdoc at the Arctic Centre, University of Groningen) conducted research on offspring of non-Norwegian migrants to Longyearbyen, with the support of Svalbard Science Forum. Thanks to financial support from the Fritt Ord Foundation, Dagmara Wojtanowicz documented the lifeworlds of five non-Norwegian teenagers living in Longyearbyen. The exhibition presents 19 images giving a glimpse into the everyday life of 5 adolescents. It was presented in January 2022 in Longyearbyen, in January 2023 in Oslo, and ASSW23 in Vienna is its third edition.

Organiser: Zdenka Sokolíčková This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Arctic in the Anthropocene

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Entire ASSW 2023 I Location: Else Richter Saal

Mankind has been shaping its environment for millennia in order to wrest its livelihood from nature. The perception of nature has changed in our civilization history from one that threatens life to one that subordinates and destroys. In the Anthropocene, we experience the Arctic as one of the few remaining large-scale regions of pristine nature, but increasingly also as a gathering place for civilizational plastic waste and industrial exploitation of resources, further fuelling a fatal feedback mechanism. The exhibition artists have felt connected to the Arctic for decades and aim to stimulate a metaphysical connection to the Arctic as a natural space. The images of the cryosphere also portray the Earth's evolution -genesis. Since time immemorial, landscape has been shaped by cryogenesis with forces such as wind, water, ice, and snow. The observers’ eyes shall be sharpened for the fragility of the Arctic and ears opened for a tribute to the beauty of frozen landscapes, commemorating also the discovery of Franz-Josef-Land by the Austro-Hungarian polar explorers Julius Payer and Carl Weyprecht exactly 150 years ago. In a sense, the portraits of Frozen Morphs make the imperishable in the ephemeral visible, adding a spiritual dimension to the scientific commitment of the Arctic Science Summit Week. Thus, the step from physics to metaphysics becomes smaller and leads to more awareness of the universality of life. Nature does not need to be given an economic value defined by humans in order to have a right to exist. Moments of absolute closeness to nature and the feeling of oneness with nature can bring us closer to the truth than natural science alone would be able to do. Then there is only the Now and undivided devotion to it. "Melt the ice in your hearts. Start smiling and praying so that our children may see many, many more springs across the land!" calls the Greenlandic shaman Angaangaq to the world.

Organiser: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Media Officer Austrian Polar Research Institute)

Artists (alphabetically by first name):