The lady who dares to share

Luba Kuzovnikova moved to Kirkenes in northern Norway in 2006, where she works with cross-border contemporary art. Photo: Trine Hamran

She has invited North Koreans to conduct Norwegian soldiers, hosted a symphony concert without conductor, and given us all another spectacular Barents Spektakel. Meet Luba Kuzovnikova and her visions.


It is a tired yet happy Luba Kuzovnikova that meets us in Kirkenes in the aftermath of the Barents Spektakel. She is easy to recognize, with her trademark aviator pilot hat and furry coat. With her crew in Pikene på Broen she has conducted artists, musicians, the public and media through yet another festival. She has even participated in burning to the ground what used to be the world’s smallest hotel. The fire still shines in her eyes.

“I am extremely happy that everything has gone so well.”

Luba moved to Kirkenes in 2006, where she has lead this festival since 2007. She wants it to be a meeting point between culture, business and politics. Her ambitions are as high as they are tangible:

“I want Barents Spektakel to be nothing less than the heart of the region. To be the common ground where new cutting edge ideas are thought, realized, and carried out in practice. Whether we speak of cultural, economic or social development.”

Agent of change
Luba Kuzovnikova has been interested in the art world since she was young, and made it her profession with the coming of the new millennium. Not as an artist, but as an agent of change - through art. She believes that art has this potential, as it engages us emotionally.

“Art gives us insight into something we do not see at first glance. I think that artists have this unique capacity and ability to help us take a look into the future.”

Luba is from Severodvinsk, a relatively small city in the Russian Barents, and Kirkenes is much smaller. She loves art and working with artists, so why then this tiny city in the extreme north and not a central European capital?

“I chose Kirkenes because it is an area experiencing lots of changes. I want to work with these changes through art and culture, and be able to participate in changing something. That’s the real fun.”

So what is the future of this region then?

“I see this area as the future hub of the whole Arctic region, when it comes to culture, communication and logistics.”

”Dare to share”
Luba is a person who definitely dares to share. Anybody participating in the festival over the last 6 years knows that already. And she feels that also the people participating in Barents Spektakel this year really embraced this year’s slogan.

“It seemed to ring a bell with people’s hearts and minds, the motto of sharing was used behind the scenes as well as on the scenes, and it was very well reflected in the program of the festival.”

Luba mentions the symphony musicians in the opening concert, who dared to share their music on equal terms without a conductor, without a leader. And on the other hand the local community that dared to share the collective spirit of the ME/WE project, in participating as a collective body under the leadership of a North Korean arirang expert.

“This is also a comment on ”dare to share”, engaging people to partake in two opposite, yet related aspects of human behavior.”

And what about Lubas relationship with the high north, what is her future here?

“As long as I can grow as a person, through the projects that I work with, I will stay.”

That could mean that she will stay a while, if her own vision for the Barents region comes through.