Røbotå is a fictitious story about “the Northernmost Pole” in Norway and his job in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. Employed as a security guard at the local art gallery, he defends its visitors against polar bears. The film is the result of eight months of intensive Polish studies undertaken by Sigbjørn Bratlie.
Taking the protagonist of the film along with him, the artist embarks on a journey to the remote Arctic. From a viewpoint at 79° degrees north, Sigbjørn Bratlie presents the modern world with his typical, humoristic manner. His protagonist not only lives in extremely harsh conditions but his major job is to defend the visitors of the Contemporary Art Gallery against polar bears. We learn about his dilemmas and the specificity of the cold Arctic, as we accompany him through the island’s capital, Longyearbyen. We see rough, polar but at the same time majestic landscapes. The film impresses by its purity and symmetry of composition.
With the help of “the Northernmost Pole” in Norway, the artist attempts to understand the meaning of emigration. We observe the main character almost as if through a magnifying glass. He surprises us with his ability to adapt to the tremendously difficult conditions in the far North. As we follow him we ask ourselves the question about the limits of our quest for ‘a better world.’ His story almost resembles a spiritual journey, a journey to the inside of oneself.
The Svalbard Treaty allows more than 40 nations to enjoy the same rights of access and residence. It is a unique place, with an international community, characterised by a flow of people but moreover by temporality. Everyone who settles here must serve a purpose.
The setting of this nearly monochromatic film takes place in the very moment when the last rays of the sun reach the valley where Longyearbyen is located. The sun will soon be gone for months and the town will disappear in the midst of polar night. Nature that we see in the film impresses with its simplicity and drama, while its threats paradoxically become a way of life for our protagonist.
Works with painting, video, installation, performance and photography. He graduated from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London in 2002. He lives and works in Norway. His works were exhibited in numerous individual as well as group exhibitions in Norway, Germany, UK, Ireland and Lithuania. His art practice has a conceptual and analytical undertone. A key ingredient to his way of working is what he likes to call ‘the artist as anti-hero’, an artist who desperately tries to create profound, deep-felt and ground-breaking work. This strategy accounts for a lot of humour in his work, a strategy that allows him to see serious matters from an unexpected angle.
The project was carried out during an artist residency at Łaźnia Centre for Contemporary Art.