In the summer of 1894, the Russian journalist Evgeny Kochetov left Moscow to embark upon a magnificent journey to the northernmost parts of European Russia and Scandinavia. Traveling alongside Kochetov were the Russian Minister of Finance, Sergei Witte, the young artists Konstantin Korovin and Valentin Serov, and last, but not least, the cultural entrepreneur and owner of the Moscow-Yaroslavl Railroad Company—Savva Mamontov. The following year, Kochetov published his travelogue On the Frozen Sea: A Journey to the North [Po studenomu moryu: poezdka na sever], which described his impressions from the journey and expressed his hopes for the future of the northern regions. Kochetov's rich account, issued through the publishing house of Savva's older brother, also contained thirty drawings made by Korovin and Serov during their travels.
This Noontime Scholars Lecture focuses on these men's journey to the high north and its literary and artistic depictions, found in Kochetov's travelogue. The lecture argues that the journey reflects how material interests in the northern parts of Russia and Scandinavia correlate with artistic production and, by extension, the making of an aesthetic of the north.
Ingrid C. Nordgaard is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Yale University. She received a B.A. in Russian Language and Literature from Tromsø University, Norway (2010), and an M.A. in Russian Studies from New York University (2013). In her dissertation project, "Aesthetics of the North: Russian Modernist Culture and Scandinavia, 1891–1910," Nordgaard discusses how aesthetic representations of the north—both as an imagined geography and as a true geographical location—must be contextualized and explained within the larger narratives that characterize the period, regarding capitalism, nationalism, questions of socio-economic development, and modernity at large.