Stein Henningsen

is a performance artist living on the arctic archipelago of Svalbard. Since 2005, he has presented his work at many biennials, festivals, and events in Scandinavia, Europe, North America, and Asia. Henningsen is influenced by photography, thinking of his performances as vivid images. His work addresses political, social, financial, and climate issues in a contemporary context.

His first major work was produced in 2005, when Henningsen toured Europe with “Crosses of Liberty” (installation and performance), which was a small military cemetery of life-size reproductions of the American cemeteries in Normandy (

Henningsen´s goal is to create provocative images that resonate with his audiences, causing them to reflect on their complicity with regard to global issues. He is currently working on several new major projects that continue to focus on the current state of our planet, specifically on climate change and the challenges we face. As Henningsen lives in the Arctic where climate change occurs at an accelerated rate, he is acutely aware of the reality of those challenges.
“Today we are living with the result of choices made by our ancestors. As we lay the foundation for our children and future generations, it is critically important that we now make wise decisions about how we live and how we govern ourselves.”

Member of NNBK and NBK

No Footprints

Svalbard, May 2021

Svalbard May 2021
Duration: 30 minutes
I am walking through the Arctic landscape with two wooden beams leaving no footprints.
Stills from video by: Tom Warner and Stein Henningsen


Svalbard / May 2021

Performance in front of Mittag Leffler glacier, Svabard.
Man walking with no clothes in front of a glacier.
The snow is ankel deep and the wind blowing.
Duration: 3 minutes

Timeline II

Svalbard / April 2021

I am standing in a suit on the highest mountain overlooking the Arctic landscape. Then I make a short timeline on the wooden beam where the fire is moving from the right on the screen to the left. It does not take long and the heat from the fire is almost too much... When the fire goes out I drop the beam to the ground and leave the place.
The small tourch is left burning...

Exhibition THE BOAT

Gallery Svalbard, March - June 2021

Text by Tanya Mars:

Take 1

What we see is an icy landscape. What we hear is the wind, hypnotic and ominous. This pristine image is broken when the tip of a large wooden boat enters the frame from the left, slowly very slowly . . . breaking through the snow.

We hear labored human breath as the boat inches forward: there is no wake, no water. The boat is grounded, it has no purpose.

A man appears. He is pushing the boat.

What is he doing out there?
In the cold.
No hat.
No witness
His journey across the frame is endless.
And then he is gone.

Take 2

There is open water in front of a massive glacier. A large wooden boat breaks into the frame.
We hear the sound of the oars breaking the surface of the water.

We see the man in the suit rowing, rhythmically, effortlessly.

There are flames engulfing the stern of the boat, they crackle.

The man rows, unalarmed.

The flames of the boat appear to tickle the edges of the glacier as the boat exits the frame; the only remaining evidence of the boat’s existence is the wake it leaves behind.

In this series of poetic images, Stein Henningsen once again captures the mystery of the Arctic. At first glance the images simply reflect the natural beauty of the North, but the way Henningsen inserts his body into the landscape disrupts the serenity of the scene. The artist asks us to bear witness to his Herculean efforts and to ask ourselves what are the consequences of such interventions? The work is not so much about man versus nature but the inextricable connection between man and nature.

What Henningsen does so brilliantly here is juxtapose the big and the small, the vast and the intimate. The powerful, majestic Arctic landscape dominates the image and yet there is man, undaunted, persistent, unwilling to be overwhelmed by it. He must make his mark.
At what cost?

  • Photos of exhibition: Lena v Goedeke

Assistent for the project: Sarah Gerats
Photos: Sarah Gerats and Peter Rosvik


Svalbard, March 2021

The boat, eight photos, one graphic print and one video exhibited at the Exhibition.
Here are the photos...

I worked on this project for two years after finding the perfect boat, an old traditional wooden boat from the north of Norway. I pushed the boat on land throught the winter landscape. I rowed it at sea, in open water and in drift ice. The project ended by putting fire to the boat and rowing it in front of a glacier with only an assistent on land operating the cameras.
Photos by Sarah Gerats (2,3,4,6,7,8) and Peter Rosvik (1 & 5)

Belfast International Festival of Performance Art

Belfast, March 2021

Videowork of my performance where I push a traditional wooden boat through an Arctic winter landscape was selected for B.I.F.P.A.´s 2021 edition. This performance and video is part of my project The Boat starting back in 2018.


Work and education
I have an engineering degree in electronics and a masters degree in international sales and marketing. After working for Norwegian companies for ten years, I wanted to change my life. I began working as a photographer in 1997. Four years later I had my first exhibition. Photography soon led me into installations and performance art. My first performance work was with the project “Crosses of Liberty” in 2005 ( I still do photography and video, but my major works are within performance.

Curator and organiser
I have a great desire to share my experiences of Arctic with other artists, and to raise awareness of how rapidly Arctic is changing. One step has been to invite artists to experience the Arctic, to show the world its uniqueness and beauty. To that end, I created the Arctic Action International Performance Festival, founded in 2015 ( I am curating one festival each year, inviting international performance artists to create works inspired by its landscape. I believe it is extremely important at this moment in time to eschew isolationism and develop cultural networks in the current climate of international capitalist hegemony.
Member of NNBK and NBK


Contact address:
Stein Henningsen
P. O. Box 732