An intergenerational séance on extractivism

An intergenerational séance on extractivism
Marta Kristiansdtr. (Oaland) Bergsvik and her husband Berdinius Olaison Bergevik posing with an unknown person in front of their house in Bergsvik, Ryfylke. Date and photographer unknown.
Attempting to understanding processes that have rendered me a tourist in my ancestral land through examining heritage, inheritance, and whiteness.

Herman Hjorth Berge
Stockholm, Sweden
Herman Hjorth Berge enages in collaboratibve work seeks to address injustice in the “built” (degrading) environment through engagement with places.
Field of work
Architecture, Ecology, Multimedia, Photography, Research
Project category
Rural spaces
Project submitted

My practice maintains a political engagement through relating critically to the discipline of architecture.

In 2021 I graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie Architectural Design department with the thesis “countrycide” and the project “crushed mountain”.
The graduation project was about the commodification of the natural landscape
in Norway, based around a mountain quarry owned by a Dutch company supplying stone for concrete and asphalt production, large port expansions etc. The project aimed to bring attention to the massive sacrifice of nature for the construction of mundane urban environments like concrete tiled pavements and highways – and emphasize how the built environment relies on the active destruction of other environments and places.

After graduating I worked together with Nick Axel on an open ideas competition for the Babyn Yar holocaust memorial center in Kyiv, Ukraine - the site of one of the largest single massacres perpetrated by German troops against Jews during World War II, and the international symbol of the Holocaust by Bullets. In an absurd turn of history, we launched the competition on the day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the work was indefinitely suspended.

In 2022 I started the Decolonizing Architecture Advanced Studies postmasters program (DAAS) at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. Now in the second year of the program, my research project here centers around a site in rural southwestern Norway and the concept ‘succession’. Central themes are the physical heritage of the Nazi occupation and its role in shaping modern Norway and my own connection to Norwegian nature through recreation.

In 2023 I also worked with DAAR – Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti as a project coordinator for the “Concrete Tent” project for the Sharjah Architecture Triennial, and I am continuing to collaborate with them on several projects under the topic of “commoning the private” which informs and enriches my own projects.

How have I become so fundamentally antagonistic to nature, life, and ecosystems? “An intergenerational séance on extractivism” explores my positionality within a rural landscape and my relationship to nature from my family’s cabin in Ryfylke, Norway. Through engaging with my heritage, inheritance, and whiteness I’m attempting to understand the processes that have rendered me a tourist in my ancestral land. Working through the concept of succession the research project outlines the simultaneous developments of ecological destruction and extractive industrial practices by delving into historic processes of colonialism and modernism that unfold into the tangled present to shape my current unsustainable lifestyle in a country still so closely aligned with the imperial modernism envisioned by Hitler.

The "hytte" or summer house becomes the place to think from in a situated research process aiming to change both my own relationship to – and the material reality of – "the rural". The project arised out of a necessity of establishing personal understanding by creating a foundation of research, but works towards commoning this site and through that inviting collaborators to deal with the urgent challenges of rural southwestern Norway. The project continues to be informed by engagement with similar sites in Salento - Puglia, Carlentini - Sicily and Stavsnäs - Sweden.