Press Releases

`Museums on Fire!’

Published 2017/04/05

Anders Sunna, Girjas, still here, 2015. Cortesy of the artist.

Norsk versjon Sámegiel veršuvdna


‘Museums on Fire!’ a symposium taking place within a scenography, punctuated by artists’ actions

Thursday 20 April 2017, 12:00–18:00
Friday 21 April 2017, 18:00–onwards

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

OCA is pleased to present ‘Museums on Fire!’, a symposium in Oslo and subsequently in Kárášjohka (Northern Sami for Karasjok) that will take place against a scenography specially commissioned to artist Anders Sunna, with a number of actions and interventions by artists Raven Chacon, Carola Grahn, Geir Tore Holm and Duane Linklater.

‘Museums on Fire!’ considers the entanglement of art institutions within the colonial and modernist ideologies that created them, and asks artists, curators, academics of indigenous and non-indigenous descent 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 widen 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?

With the significant ‘indigenisation’ of the international art world – as indigenous voices are increasingly sought after for biennials, residencies, exhibitions and art fairs – art institutions are facing the challenge of engaging meaningfully with indigenous thinking. While the problematic issues of modern institutions were denounced early on by the likes of artist Kazimir Malevič (his 1919 text On the Museum celebrated the empowering force of burning museums) today this questioning is most profoundly felt to come from current indigenous artistic practices.

Confirmed speakers in the symposium are Raven Chacon, Carola Grahn, Geir Tore Holm, Anna Hudson, Eva Dagny Johansen, Jonathan Jones, Duane Linklater, Catalina Lozano, Gerald McMaster, Anne May Olli and Anders Sunna. Artists’ interventions by Raven Chacon, Carola Grahn, with screenings of works by Geir Tore Holm and Duane Linklater. ‘Museums on Fire!’ is curated by Katya García-Antón, with Antonio Cataldo, Ida Marie Ellinggard and Vilde Horvei.

Click here to see a detailed programme for 'Museums on Fire!'.

Geir Tore Holm will present an artistic intervention related to the symposium in Kárášjohka on Wednesday, 31 May 2017 held in collaboration with Sámi Dáiddaguovddáš (Sami Center for Contemporary Art) and the RiddoDuottarMuseat (Sámi Museums in Finnmark).

The scenography by Anders Sunna in Oslo will remain on public view at OCA from Wednesday to Sunday from 11:00 to 17:00 (closed on 17 and 25 May) until 25 June 2017.

For more information, please contact OCA’s Communication Manager Tara Hassel.

About the participants

Raven Chacon is a composer, performer, and installation artist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is also a member of the Indigenous art collective, Postcommodity. Chacon is Navajo.

Eva Dagny Johansen is a curator at the Alta Museum and a PhD researcher within the IKOS department of the University of Oslo. Johansen is Norwegian.

Carola Grahn is an artist from Jokkmokk who constructs and deconstructs social relations in an attempt to understand given roles, how they relate to the individual self-image and at the same time influence society. Grahn is Sami.

Geir Tore Holm is an artist and educator concerned with the interaction between people and the environment, agriculture and life. Holm is Sami.

Anna Hudson, is an academic, currently Associate Professor, Canadian Art History and Curatorial Studies, York University, Canada. Dr. Hudson is currently leading Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage (MICH), a six-year (2012-2018) research-creation collaboration aimed at recovering, preserving, documenting, facilitating and disseminating Inuit knowledge, culture and creativity. Hudson is Canadian.

Artist and curator Jonathan Jones worked for some years at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. He is well known for his evocative site-specific installations and interventions which illuminate a bridge between cultures and the spaces of exchange. Jones is Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi.

Duane Linklater, is an artist whose work explores the structural language of an institution and space, as well as excavates histories to unearth folds and knots addressing cultural loss, recovery and sovereignty. Linklater is Cree Indian.

Catalina Lozano is an independent curator and writer. Her research interests and curatorial practice are focused on minor historical narratives that question hegemonic forms of knowledge. She recently co-edited the book Crawling Doubles: Colonial Collecting and Affects with Mathieu K. Abonnenc and Lotte Arndt. Lozano is Colombian.

Anne May Olli is Director of RiddoDuottarMuseat, a complex of four museums and an art collection spread across the Finnmark county, Sápmi, Northern Norway. Olli is Sami and part of a reindeer herding family.

Gerald McMaster is a curator, artist and author. He is professor of Indigenous Visual Culture and Critical Curatorial Studies at OCAD University. With over 30 years of international work and expertise in contemporary art, critical theory, museology and Indigenous aesthetics he has gained a thorough understanding of transnational Indigenous visual culture and curatorial practice. He is Plains Cree and Blackfoot, and enrolled in the Siksika First Nation.

Anders Sunna is an artist who grew up in a reindeer herding family in Kieksiäisvaara. His artistic work engages with the political history of the Sami people and with his family's 47 year conflict with Sweden’s northernmost administrative herding delegation. Sunna is Sami.

About ‘Thinking at the Edge of the World. Perspectives from the North’
The event forms part of ‘Thinking at the Edge of the World. Perspectives from the North’, a broad cross-disciplinary project exploring the cultural history of Northern Norway, curated by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA). Structured through a series of regional and international dialogues and partnerships, the project is unfolding in various forms and locations across Norway and beyond, including research, artists’ residencies, exhibitions, text commissions and a number of activities implemented through an OCA pilot office in Tromsø as well as its premises in Oslo.