Stein Henningsen

is a performance artist living on Svalbard, an island in the Arctic. He has presented his work at various biennials, festivals and events in Scandinavia, Europe, North America and Asia since 2005. Henningsen is influenced by photo as traditional media, often thinking of his performances as vivid images or visual poetry. His work addresses political, social, financial and climate issues in a contemporary context.

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

Henningsen´s goal is to create provocative images that resonate with audiences over time—to get them to reflect on their complicity with regard to global issues. He is currently working on several new major projects that will continue to address issues that focus on the current state of our planet.
Recent works have focused on climate change and the challenges we face, and as he actually lives in the Arctic he is all too 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 choices about how we live and how we govern ourselves.”

Ulster Museum, Belfast

Belfast, Nothern Ireland, February 2019

Working with a block of ice 30cm x 50cm x 100cm weighing 150 kg and 7 red roses.
The block of ice is put at the space where I want to perform, outside, at the entrance of Ulster Museum an hour prior to the performance itself and is attracting a lot of attention by children passing and interacting with it.
The performance start by me putting out seven red roses on the ground on seven different spots in front of the block of ice.
When returning to the block of ice I clean it up with my hands before laying flat down on my stomach wanting to push the block with my head. The ice does not move and the rest of the performance is a struggle to get the block of ice across the stairs in front of the museum while crushing the roses with the ice.
Coming to the end of the stairs I end the performance by pushing the block of ice down the stairs. The block of ice breaks into several pieces and the performance ends.
Photos: Jordan Hutchings

Perf #1 NIAN Gothenburg

Gothenburg, October 2018

Performance during the Gothenburg Culture Night outside the Gothenburg Museum of Art. Together with 8 more artists we performed for 3 hours.

I performed with two times 25 meter of building plastics as an experiment to see how the material could be used. I tried taking advantage of the whole space and ended the performance leaving a floating blue glacier hanging from a tree in the dark.
Duration: 3 hours.
Photos: Peter Rosvik

Perf #2 NIAN Gothenburg

Gothenborg, October 2018

Performance with 25 meter long building plastics on a small island outside of Gothenburg. I work with the natural elements of the island as the landscape, the wind and the water.
Duration 20 minutes.
Photos: Peter Rosvik

Perf #3 NIAN Gothenburg

Gothenborg, October 2018

Three hours durational performance together with eight other performance artists taking part in this NIAN event.
We all worked in the same park in Gothenburg.
I performed with two times 25 meter of building plastics as my second experiment to see how the material could be used.
Photos: Peter Rosvik


Copenhagen, October 2018

Making three performances at Bodylandscapes.
The first: I hammer iron nails into a wooden plate to make a bed of nails. The nails are to short and when I turn the plate to lay down the nails do not come through. I lay down as the bed of nails is real and lay on it for more then 10 minutes before I end the performance.
The second: I repeat the same pattern as in the first performance, but now the nails are long and are coming out through the other side. I turn the plate and lay on the bed of nails for 10 minutes before I get help by the audience to get up an end the performance. The photos presented are from the second performance. All photos by Sunniva Gudmundsdottir Mortensen

The third performance is a food performance.

Perf #1 NIAN Åland Islands

Åland, August 2018

I invite the performance artist David Sebastian Lopez Restrepo to take part in the performance with me.
We undress and put on orange life jackets. Without anybody seeing us we float ourselves out to a red buoy and attach ourselves to it. We lay in the little bay for 75 minutes before starting to blow the jackets whistle for the last 15 minutes. People have seen us from the start but now they get annoyed. We are disturbing their peace and harmony.
Duration: 90 minutes

Perf #2 NIAN Åland Islands

Åland, August 2018

Out on this island where there is an old light house I work with a wheel barrow and three red fiber sacks containing sawdust.
With the wheel barrow I transport the sacks all the way to the south of the island, standing at the point for a while looking into the horizon.
Then I go back, but this time leaving the wheel barrow and carrying the sacks at my shoulder. I cross the island and go the the northernmost part of the island where I empty the sacks into the sea. I end the performance by going into the sea and float away with the sawdust.
Videoclips og video: Ursula Sepponen

Perf #3 NIAN Åland Islands

Åland, August 2018

This performance is carried out in the city center of Mariehamn. I take the same red sacks to a fountain and spend a considerable amount of time filling each of them with water. Then I carry them all to the bus shelter on the other side of the road to the fountain. I put them up on the bench in the shelter as we are waiting for the bus. 15 minutes later I take them out of the bus shelter and onto the grass. I tie the red sacks onto a heavy duty rope and start pulling them across the grass in the park. It is very heavy and I have problems moving the sacks. I struggle with the action for 30 minutes before i fall over totally exhausted. I leave everything and walk away. The performance ends.
Duration: 2,5 hours

Perf #1 NIAN Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands, July 2018

Performance at Nólsøy just outside of Tórshavn.
Performance in the small harbor. I use what I can find on the site, an anchor and a rope. I drag the anchor back and fourth over the quay making noise and creating a white pattern in the concrete. I repeat this movement for an hour before ending at the end of the quay, standing looking ahead. The anchor is by my feet and I am holding the rope. I stay for 15 minutes before I let myself fall straight into the water. I am now moored to the quay by the anchor. I lay there for another 15 minutes before I end the performance.
Duration: 90 minutes
Photos: Sunniva G Mortensen

Perf #2 NIAN Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands, July 2018

The performance takes place in Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands. I work with two huge buckets , a plastic football, some blue food coloring, an electric drill, 2 x 1kg of flour, a cardboox filled with newspaper, a stone in the end of a string and a lighter.
I start by setting fire to the cardbox and watching it burn away while using the rock in a string as a metronome. Then I go over to the buckets and fill them with water. Before filling the first I put the football into it. When filled I color it slightly blue. Then I fill the other.
Then I take the drill and make four tiny holes every 90 degrees in the first bucket. I lift the bucket and place it on top of my head. Water is pouring out. Almost empty I drop it to the ground. Then I take the two packets of flour and smash them above my head. I wait..., and finish the performance by pouring the second bucket of water over me.
Duration: 25 minutes
Photos: Sunniva G Mortensen

Perf #3 NIAN Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands, July 2018

Performance at the G festival.
I work with a lamb. I walk it, feed it, carry it and take care of it.
Duration: 90 minutes.
Photos: Sunniva G Mortensen

Perf #1 Live Action, Gothenburg

Gothenborg, November 2017

I am lying in a bathtub filled with soil outside the local library on a Friday in December with Christmas shopping all around me.
The temperature is +4C.
I am lying in the tub for two hours and I need help to get out of it. It is cold.
The performance last for approximately 2 hours.

Perf #2 Live Action, Gothenburg

Gothenburg, November 2017

I am lying in a bathtub filled with big homemade ice-cubes on a Saturday in December
with Christmas shopping all around me.
The temperature is +4C and there is light drizzle in the air.
When the second wave of heavy shivering goes away I end the performance.
I have then been sitting approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Perf #3 Live Action, Gothenburg

Gothenburg, November 2017

I work with a bathtub, some goldfishes, a military uniform, a torch and a tiny bit of cleaned gasoline.
I start by standing and marching like a soldier. Then I carefully take the goldfishes, one by one out of a transparent plastic bag and into the tub filled with water. I then step into the tub and starts marching in the tub. The goldfishes between my feet. After a while i stop and get out of the tub. The fishes are still swimming around. Without much attention I put a tiny bit of gasoline into the tub. Then I stand up, get my torch and light it. I hold the burning torch above the tub in front of my head. After a minute the fire alarm goes off and I light the gasoline on top of the water in the tub. The surface of water burns violently for 15 seconds. The fishes are still swimming around when the fire dies out. I end my performance.
Duration: 30 minutes

Live Biennale, Vancouver

Vancouver, October 2017

I work with twelve blocks of ice measuring 25cm x 50cm x 100cm and weighs 125 Kg.
The van drops the blocks on the grass in the park and I start my performance. There is a constructed circle of concrete in the park. I carefully clean the blocks of ice and move them to the center this circle one by one. I am building a bed with the twelve standing blocks of ice. When the bed is ready I slowly start to walk the perimeter of the circle..., the I walk faster and faster until i reach my maximum walking speed. I stop and walk over to the bed and I climb on top of it. Slowly I lay my body down and feel the cold of the ice through my suit. After a while I start shivering..., and it goes away. Then it comes back..., and goes away. I feel I have to move now and put myself in a sitting position before carefully jumping to the ground. I don´t know if my legs will hold me. They do. Shivering again I start moving the standing blocks of ice in a line having 60 cm between the them. After the line is done I go to the first block and push it so it hits the second. The second hits the third which hits the fourth... All the blocks falls over and breaks. I leave the broken blocks and end the performance.
Duration: 4 hours

Days of Performance, Lviv

Lviv, Ukraine, September 2017

I work with a ladder, a shovel, turpentine, and a lighter.
I walk the streets of Lviv for five minutes before ending up at the planned space. I put the ladder against the wall and dig two holes in the ground to support the ladder. Then I place the ladder in the holes. I smear turpentine over the part of the ladder being closet to the ground, then I set fire to the ladder and climb it. When the fire is out I climb down and end the performance.
Duration: 25 minutes

Venice Live

Venice, May 2017

In Venice I use ice cubes and a wooden basket with a metal net for sorting out the pebbles from the sand.
I start my performance by filling the wooden basket with ice cubes. Then I lay down on the street on my back and hold the basket on straight arms over my face. The ice is melting and cold water is dripping onto my face. After a while it starts to hurt in my arms and my shoulders and my muscles start to shiver. The shivering creates a beautiful sound in the ice cubes. I continue the performance until I can no longer hold the basket.
Duration: 55 minutes

Standing in the sea, Svalbard

Vestpynten, Svalbard 2017

Standing in the sea until I loose the feeling in my legs and have to get out of the water.

Duration:7 minutes

Perf #1 Beijing Live

Beijing, China, October 2016

I work with an aquarium, ice cubes, two big metal bowls, a bucket filled with water and ice cubes, a projection of a black and white photography of an iceberg, sound projection from a dog yard of huskies, a cardboard box full of newspaper, a spray can with liquid for cleaning breaks and a lighter.
The performance start by projecting the iceberg on the wall. The sound projection is added. I enter with the aquarium and put it on display filled with ice and water. Then I take the bucket filed with water and ice and walk over to the wall where the photo is projected. I step into it and stands there for a while. I then go out of the bucket, takes a few steps out on the floor and throw the water and ice onto the wall and the photo. Then I light the spray can and the flames reach six meters from the can putting fire to the cardboard box. Then I turn towards the aquarium filled with ice. It cracks and water starts leaking out.
I go over to the two metal bowls and fill each of them up with ice cubes. I step into the bowls and start sliding them carefully over to the wall where the photo is projected. When reaching the wall I stand for while facing the wall before stepping out of the bowls. Then I empty them over my head. The performance is over.
Duration: 40 minutes

Perf #2 Beijing Live

Beijing, China, October 2016

The task is to do a 30 minutes performance in a space with two other artists. We will all do a static standing or sitting performance. I chose to bring one of the big stones outside the space into the space. I try balancing on it, but it is moving so it is hard. After half the time I fall down and now I try lifting the stone. I hold it in different positions until the time is out. It was hard.
Duration: 30 minutes


Work and education
I have an engineering degree in electronics and a master degree in international sales and marketing. After 10 years of working for Norwegian companies I wanted to change my life drastically and I started 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 my project ”Crosses of Liberty”in 2005 ( I still work with photography and video, but my major works are in performance art.

Curator and organiser
I have a great desire to share my experiences in Arctic with other artists and to raise awareness of how rapidly Arctic now is changing. One step has been to invite artists to truly experience the Arctic, to show the world its uniqueness and beauty. To that end I have created the Arctic Action International Performance Festival, founded in 2015 ( I have curated three series in Svalbard, one each year, inviting performance artists from Scandinavia and elsewhere, to create works that are 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.


Org. No 914 901 774
Org name:

Contact address:
c/o Stein Henningsen
P. O. Box 732