Amphibious Trilogies

Ice bridging

One of the most striking pieces in The Northern Maritime Museum in Arkhangelsk is the display of the making of ice bridges across the river.

We have wandered around the museum and delighted in its maritime historical exhibition works and style, the large wooden ship models and accomplishments of the past also connected to the trajectory into steam and then nuclear power.

By the window, under its iridescent blue plastic awnings, and facing the summery outdoor tarmacked area beside the river, we meet a seasonal and state change. Here the depths of winter are represented in a rather small but powerful display of the laying out of tracks and vehicles across the river. It is an ice bridging activity.

The ice is thick enough to dispatch tracks that will connect two main land masses of the city. The flow of water and logs and ships has been halted by the force of the winter, though deeper down the water still flows. Now the technology of a different movement, of a different transportation are deployed. It appears to be an operation underway, its passage not defined as a destination but a movement over the water, on rails, on the ice.

Ingenuity, the need, the possibility and the actual are all symbolised. They are even more powerful as this particular display is accentuated by bright sunlight, summer warmth lighting up the ice surfaces with its shattered perspex fragments showing ice, the powdery flat surface suddenly alive as one walks around it, able to imagine its connections from both sides of the river.

This is a curious movement, one of model, body, scenario and immediate physical world context just outside the museum.

One looks out onto the harbour and river’s edge and sees there the prow of a ship and the river, in motion. And the other bank of the river!

At once the scale of this ice bridging operation becomes more conceivable, and the bird’s eye view depicted in the model stretches outwards like a track in the mind. A season, perhaps mid-winter, and a set of interconnected movements being made for extended choreography of connection, inside the cool of the museum, in the sunshine, mid-summer.


Click & Drag: Rotate the view.
Right Click & Drag: Pan the view.