Arts Interventions Development


Barents Spektakel 2017, Kirkenes

«As if the Nuremberg Trials were held in Narnia» – Finnmarken

The People’s Tribunal is a mock trial version of the ground-breaking lawsuit where Norwegian environmental organisations Greenpeace and Nature and Youth are suing the Norwegian Government for allegedly allowing unconstitutional oil exploration in the Barents Sea.

A Nordic amphitheatre fashioned from 190 tonnes of ice is the largest ice sculpture created in Norway and serves as the court room. Artist and architect Peder Istad recreated the waning pack ice and the retreating ice shelf of the Arctic.


February 11, 2017 – After three days of impassioned arguments from the prosecution and defence, the People’s Tribunal of Kirkenes casted their verdict and decided on perhaps the most fateful choice of our time: between economy and ecology, prosperity and environment.

There was only one decision that the Tribunal was mandated to decide upon;

YES oil extraction in the South-East Barents Sea is against the Norwegian Constitution’s § 112

NO oil extraction in the South-East Barents Sea is not against the Norwegian Constitution’s § 112

A hush settled over the open-air courtroom as the verdict was to be read, the tight pack of media craning their lenses toward the sky as the master of proceedings, artist Morten Traavik, read the verdict from high above atop the grand arena.  As the verdict was read aloud, the prosecution embraced while the defence looked wistfully toward the Norwegian constitution’s article 112 emblazoned on the giant walls of ice.  The people had spoken, and what they had to say sent a shockwave through the plans for Norway’s next oil fields; oil extraction in the South-East Barents Sea is against the Norwegian Constitution’s § 112

YES : 74

NO: 49

The People’s environmental Tribunal concept can and will be exported to other Northern regions with similar political issues.


Produced by Traavik.Info and Pikene på Broen. 

Prosecutor: Hans Petter Graver, jurist lawyer and professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Oslo.

Expert witnesses for the prosecution:  Kari Elisabeth KaskiBjørn SamsetNiillas Aslaksen SombyStine ØstnorTerje Traavik and  Ingrid Skjoldvær

Defense: Morten Grønvigh, senior lawyer specialised in offshore/maritime industry. 

Expert witnesses for the defense: Mimir KristjansssonRune RafaelsenJan Martin NordbottenOle-Gunnar Rasmussen, and Luba Kuzovnikova.

  • Concept and director: Morten Traavik 
  • Ice architecture and design: Peder Istad 
  • Assistant director and research: Ragnhild Freng Dale 
  • Producer and research: Guro Vrålstad 
  • Sound design: Jørgen Træen 
  • Music and theme song: The Megaphonic Thrift 
  • End song: Inge Bremnes 
  • Animations design: Komposter 
  • Props: Lena Thorsmæhlum 
  • Venue cleansing ritual: Ronald Kvernmo 
  • Assistant ice engineers: Marius Engan Johansen, Fabian Probul, Taibola (Ilia Kuzubov, Aleksei Maklakov, Nikolai Terentev, Daniil Vlasov) 
  • Machines and equipment: Svein Karisari, Bygg & Maskintjenester AS, Knut Jakola Transport AS, AS Oscar Sundquist 
  • Graphic design: Valnoir

The Norwegian Critics’ Association awarded «The Trial of the Century» the 2017 Critics Prize for Theatre (announced on 28th of September 2017, Oslo).

A section of the winning announcement reads;

“The strength of the Trial of the Century was that it transformed a significant and relevant political conflict into a form that addressed the individual’s responsibility, while succeeding in communicating the issue in a clear and immediate way. The Trial of the Century is a theatre project that sets its own agenda for one of the most burning questions of the day. The project used artistic means, such as an amphitheatre, in an innovative way that gives reason to believe that it will be one of the most important reference works in recent political Norwegian performing arts.”

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