Press Releases : 2017/01

Highlights of 2017: a year of Indigenous art and thought

Published 2017/01/25

Arvid Sveen, Frigjøring (Liberation), 1972–81. Courtesy of the artist.

Norsk versjon Sámegiel veršuvdna


Highlights of 2017: a year of Indigenous art and thought

Office for Contemporary Art Norway
Nedre gate 7,
0551 Oslo I

The Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA) is delighted to announce the programme for 2017—a year dedicated to Indigenous art and thought—which marks a commitment to urgent, contemporary Indigenous issues of global importance, and honours the 100th Sami Jubilee which will commence in Tråante (South Sami for Trondheim) on February 6, 2017.

The 2017 programme opens at Small Projects in Tromsø on January 19, with a conversation between Sami artist Máret Ánne Sara and OCA Director Katya García-Antón, addressing the legacy of colonialism on Indigenous communities and their artistic strategies today. Sara’s project Pile o’ Sápmi points to the Norwegian state’s current enforcement of a law that seeks to reduce the reindeer population across northern Norway/Sápmi, and which has been met with strong resistance from the reindeer-herding community.

On 20-21 April, OCA presents 'Museums on Fire' in Oslo and subsequently in Kárášjohka (Northern Sami for Karasjok). Staged within a specially commissioned scenography created by Sami artist Anders Sunna, 'Museums on Fire' is a symposium addressing the entanglement of art institutions with the colonial and modernist ideologies that created them. Artists, curators, academics of Indigenous and non-indigenous descent are asked to consider the spaces and processes through which Indigenous artistic practices, past and present, should be addressed today. What would a non-colonial museum look, feel and sound like? Is it enough to broaden the modernist art historical canon through the politics of inclusion? And is the museum per se an obsolete model for Indigenous practices? Should novel constellations of thought and practice be sought to affirm and mediate the Indigenous discourses of the future? In the light of a marked increase in attention to Indigenous artistic practices across the globe, this question is most profoundly felt and in need of finding appropriate proposals.

Speakers and contributing artists include Raven Chacon, Clementine Deliss, Carola Grahn, Geir Tore Holm, Anna Hudson, Eva Dagny Johansen, Duane Linklater, Anne May Olly and Gerald McMaster. Curated by Katya García-Antón, with Antonio Cataldo.

A second part of the project will feature a historic conversation, entitled ‘Sámiid Vuorká-Dávvirat / The Sami Collections Revisited’, taking place in Kárášjohka/Karasjok in collaboration with RiddoDuottarMuseat (Sami Museums of Western Finnmark) and Sámi Dáiddaguovddáš (Sami Center for Contemporary Art) on 31 May. Artist Geir Tore Holm will conceive and moderate a discussion with RDM founders Alf Isak Keskitalo and Vigdis Stordahl addressing the creation of an inspirational museum concept designed as a site of Sami empowerment.

Led by OCA and OSLO PILOT, the IKT (The International Association of Curators of Contemporary Art) Congress 2017 will take place in Oslo 19–21 May 2017, followed by a post-congress in Tromsø in collaboration with institutions and contemporary art initiatives in the north of Norway/Sápmi. The Congress includes a Symposium which will take the centenary of the first Sami Congress as its starting point—an event which ultimately led to the signing of the Sami Act. The Symposium will go on to address the significance of decolonisation and Indigenous and ecological discourse on contemporary art and related cultural thought around the world.

The Oslo Symposium is curated by Katya García-Antón (Director/Curator OCA), Eva González-Sancho (Curator OSLO PILOT) and Per Gunnar Eeg-Tverbakk (Curator OSLO PILOT), in collaboration with the IKT Board.

OCA’s 2017 programme will culminate with the exhibition 'Let the River Flow. The Sovereign Will and the Making of a New Worldliness' opening in early 2018. The project will discuss the recent history of Sami artistic activism in and across Sápmi (in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia).

'Let the River Flow' takes as its starting point the artistic and activist practices of the radical Máze Sami Artists Group, central to the revolts and unprecedented hunger strikes in protest at the intended damming of the Alta river. The dam built on Norway’s most famous watercourse flooded Sami land of cultural and economic relevance. The exhibition will also present photographic material as well as ephemera from local people’s archive. A younger generation of Sami, as well as other Indigenous and non-indigenous artists and thinkers, will be invited to consider the significance of Alta Action today throughout the world.

About Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA)

The Office for Contemporary Art Norway is a non-profit foundation created by the Norwegian Ministries of Culture and of Foreign Affairs in 2001. Its principle aim is to foster dialogue between art practitioners in Norway and the international arts scene, and support Norwegian artists in their activities around the world. As a result, OCA’s discursive, exhibitional, publishing, residency and visitor programmes focus on bringing the plurality of practices and histories at the forefront of international artistic debates to Norway, insofar as they are concerned with actively participating in such debates nationally and internationally. OCA has been responsible for Norway’s contribution to the visual arts section of the Venice Biennale since 2001.