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

The Boat in Metode (2024), vol. 2

Thoughts about 'The Boat' by Lutz Koepnick in his article 'On Water’s Edge'
Published in: Metode (2024), vol. 2 Being, Bathing and Beyond


Kunsthalle Recklinghausen, Feb 11 - April 14 - 2023

Kunsthalle Recklinghausen, Precarious Mountains
Exhibiting four videos: The Boat, Red Drum, No Footprints and Trapped.The videos were installed in a 300m2 space with the wooden boat as an installation.

The exhibition brings together a group of international artists who deal with the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard in various ways. Their works explore both the radically changing landscape and its imagery, as well as the history of the mining industry. The aesthetics of machines and people shaped by nature and technology, as well as the sociopolitical realities of the concept of the 'North,' are topics discussed in this exhibition. Bituminous coal is among many remarkable connections between the two places, a Kunsthalle in the Ruhr area and the Svalbard archipelago near the North Pole.

With generous support of the Royal Norwegian Embassy and the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Photo documentation: Caroline Schlüter


Mina de S. Domingos, Portugal, January 2023

January 2023 Sarah Gerats and I were chosen to take part in the MALACATE AiR through an open call. Our stay in Mina de São Domingos concluded with a final presentation 'Happy Days' on January 27th. Photos from my four solo performances and the final presentation below...

From the MALACATE webpage ( we can read the following:

Despite the freezing cold that night, the local community and our guests from Mértola and surroundings were with us and didn't budge until the end of the 'Happy Days' performance.

The giants Stein and Sarah surprised us once again with their creativity, sensitivity and resistance far beyond what is common to 'mortals'.

In all, 6 performances were held in various locations at Mina de São Domingos, which involved the community in active and disturbing participation, generating critical thinking and reflection on determination, intention and the ability to resist and act on the territory.
Transform and realize all 'impossibilities'.

Thus, Open Call, Wide Space happened:

01/17 - Performance 'Rocks'
01/19 - Performance 'More Rocks'
01/21 - Performance 'Door'
01/23 - Performance '70 kg of sand (75 kg for sure)'
01/24 - Performance 'Bathtub'
01/27 - Final presentation 'Happy Days'

The Malacate project would like to thank the entire community of Mina de São Domingos for their curiosity, sharing, involvement, cooperation and active participation during the artists' residency, without you ...
there would be no sense!

To our partners at Mértola City Council and the illustrious Café Estrela, thank you very much!


Touring North of Norway 2023

Awarded the Art Critics prize for the video work: No Footprints.
Den Nordnorske Kunstutstilling / The North Norwegian Art Exhibition - is a regional exhibition arranged by Bodø Kunstforening, and exhibit artists with connection to the Northern Region (Nordland, Troms and Finnmark).

The artworks are being selected every year through two rounds reviewing by a named jury, and tour around the region through 4-7 galleries every year between January and December.

'Nordnorsken' as it is also called, have been touring in the region since 1948, which makes it the secons oldest of the five regional exhibitions and is one of the oldest exhibitions of its kind. But foremost it has been a meeting place for the artists and the audience in Northern Norway through three generations.

Oslo Negativ

Oslo, Fall 2022

Oslo Negativ and Tenthaus presents works from the collective members and artists participating in the exhibition program 2022. Tenthaus has invited me to screen the video work: No Footprints
The exhibition will be open to the public from 23 September to 16 October.

18th Athens Digital Arts Festival

Athens, May 2022

The piece 'The Boat' has been selected to be presented in the context of our forthcoming edition '18th ADAF: FutuRetro', in the video art category.
ADAF is scheduled to take place on May 25th-29th in Athens. The artwork will be included in the physical version of the festival.



Art Spin invited me to Toronto to do a performance May 19 2022 for the official opening of the Nordic Bridges Contemporary Art and Culture project. Nordic Briges is led by Toronto´s Harbourfront Centre fostering cultural exchange between the Nordic region and Canada.
Nordic Bridges will serve to connect the Nordic Region – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland – and Canada through collaborations between artists, innovators and thinkers.
This exciting initiative is seeded by a grant from the Nordic Council of Ministers, an intergovernmental organization dedicated to Nordic collaboration.
I work with water, fire, ice and an aluminum container. Duration of performance: 30 minutes

Red Drum

Svalbard, May 2022

I painted a huge cable drum signal red and indicated with a white arrow on both sides in which direction to roll it.
The drum was moved into the Arctic wilderness.
I rolled the drum through the white landscape in the opposite direction as indicated by the white arrows.

Frozen Horizon

Oslo, Spring 2022

Frozen Horizon. Group exhibition with Ulla Schildt and Elly Stormer Vadseth at Tenthaus, Oslo from 7/4 to 5/5 2022.
Exhibiting my video work: The Boat

Performance Works

Longyearbyen, March 2022

Solo exhibition with Live Performance, installation, photos and selected screened performance work from 2005 until today. Works exhibited: Crosses of Liberty (2005), Guilt (2007), No Footprints (2021), The Boat (2021), and Timeline II (2021).

Factory Light Festival

Asker, Norway, 17-18 Sept. 2021

Factory Light Festival Asker Norway September 17-18.

1500 Kg of ice delivered. Ice was taken from a frozen lake winter 2021.
I worked with the ice over two days doing two performances, both lasting 3 hours.
I also used water, a light bulbe connected to electricity and a sledgehammer.
The performance ended after me laying under the ice for 30 minutes before the audience helped me out.

Festival Perform

Bordeaux, France, August 2021

Festival Perform 20 - 21 of August 2021 .

Organized by Sarah Troche and Winter Story In The Wild Jungle.
The performance is untitled. Duration 40 minutes.
I worked with ice and fire

Here I show you the first performance. The second performance where I did a completely different performance was not documented. In the second performance I worked with a wheelbarrow, bags of soil, a spade and a green bambus plant.

Then the 'The Vanlife Project' took place from 23 to 29 august. Living and traveling in a van doing performance art in public spaces of Gironde departement for a week.

No Footprints

Svalbard, May 2021

Svalbard May 2021
Duration: 25 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 Int. Festival of Perf. 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 ( Today I work with performance, video, photography and installation.

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 od NBK, NNBK and BONO


Contact address:
Stein Henningsen
P. O. Box 732