Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen was a world renowned adventurer, celebrated for his lifelong services in the field of exploration. Nansen’s fame as an explorer paved the way for his career as a highly respected statesman and humanitarian. Awarded two Nobel Peace Prizes for his work as High Commissioner for Refugees – one of them posthumously – one of his most enduring legacies is his invention of the Nansen Passport: a refugee passport for stateless peoples in post-World War I Europe.
Norwegian-American artist Anneli Skaar has reimagined Nansen’s eponymous identity document, the Nansen passport, set in the context of today’s climate-related displacement and migration issues. The work is a limited edition fine press book published by Two Ponds Press that includes copperplate illustrations, metal sculpture, and hand-bound cyanotype prints. How can Nansen’s role in the past — both as explorer and humanitarian — inspire, unify, and inspire empathy in an age of partisanship around climate change, refugee and migration challenges? How do Nansen’s own words in post-Great War Europe resonate today? And lastly: might we all one day become refugees?
Artist and designer Anneli Skaar is a U.S. citizen, born in the San Francisco Bay area to Norwegian immigrants, with a degree in illustration and graphic design from the National Academy of the Arts in Oslo, Norway.
Skaar has traveled to the high Arctic to work on related art projects several times since 2015, and began making art about borders and migrants when she visited the southern border of the United States in 2018. The fine press project “Nansen’s Pastport” ties much of her previous work together, while also honoring the legacy of someone she has respected since childhood.
Upcoming fine press projects in 2021 include “Island Whale” and “Monarch,” which explore the climate change-related themes of extraction and extinction, respectively. Besides her work as a fine artist, Skaar serves as Creative Director for the Farnsworth Art Museum. She lives and works in Camden, Maine.