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Nansen's Pastport

Publication type




Book Size

18.5 x 21 cm, 32 pages

Edition Size

60 copies


Pocket edition $2000.

Nansen’s Pastport is an artistic re-invention of Norwegian polar explorer and humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen’s refugee passport for post-Great War Europe. The book, designed and conceived by artist Anneli Skaar is re-imagined as a climate refugee passport for humanity, using Nansen’s own words in a contemporary context, inviting consideration on how to meet the pressing issues of current and future climate migration with wisdom from the past. This work can be accessed in three different forms—standard, deluxe, and pocket editions—and yet regardless of size or accompanying materials the North American salmon leather of the binding of the Pastport, the reinterpreted map, and Skaar’s introduction to the project all invite the reader to delve deeper into the book, in whatever its permutation. Not only does the work engage Nansen’s historical narrative to explore contemporary issues of migration and the climate crisis is ambitious in its text, but the format of the project engages the readers’ senses by thoughtful use of materials, scale, and memory. Skaar and her collaborators have created a fully immersive experience: Nansen’s Pastport asks us to read, think, imagine, and make connections not just in its text, but through the experience of touch and exploration. The lifejacket material’s slick neon orange, the familiar size and layout of the passport, and the world map all ask the reader to dig into their own experiences to bring further meaning to the work.

The cyanotypes included in the passport were printed by midcoast Maine photographer Sal Taylor Kydd who has self-published several books that include her photography and poetry.

The mappa mundi inspired map was printed at Wingate Studio in New Hampshire, a space opened in 1985 as a print workshop where founder Peter Pettengill printed work for Louise Bourgeois, Walton Ford, Sol LeWitt, Robert Motherwell, and other artists.

The bronze casting of Fridtjof Nansen’s melting Nobel Prize was done by Chris Gamage at Bog Bronze based in Rockland, Maine.

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