Press Releases

Programme for the Closing Symposium of ‘Let the River Flow’

Published 2018/05/28

A Symposium organised by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA) to coincide with the finissage of the exhibition 'Let the River Flow: The Sovereign Will and the Making of a new Worldliness' to offer insights into issues of art, guardianship, land, nature and colonial consumption in relation to Indigenous artistic practices.

Let the River Flow
The Áltá-Guovdageino Action (c. 1978–82) changed the course of Sámi and Nordic history. This exhibition showcases the role of Sámi artists in the action, and the solidarity of non-Sámi counterparts. It also presents contemporary artistic positions, Sámi and international, exploring the legacy of this Eco-Indigenous uprising today, at a time of growing global Indigenous power.


Welcome words
Katya García-Antón

On writing and literature in the staging of The Áltá-Guovdageino Action
Marry Áilonieida Somby

Contextualising the art of Iver Jåks (1932–2007) from a duodji perspective
Irene Snarby

Central moments in recent Māori artistic production; on leading Māori artist Ralph Hotere and Senior Māori artists Emily Karaka and Shona Rapira Davies
Megan Tamati-Quenell

Lunch Break

On songs and protest
Áine Mangaoang

On river guardianship, ecological restoration and film
Pauliina Feodoroff

On art and guardianship
Sara Marielle Gaup and radio producer Eva Maria Fjellheim

Coffee break

On recent research into environmental regulation, spatial and media practices and the law relating to the impact of mining in West Papua, and other Indigenous contexts

- Introduction and spatial evidence
Nabil Ahmed

- Self-determination and international law
Fadjar Schouten-Karwa

- Human rights and environmental justice
Veronica Koman

- Keynote presentation
Mama Yosepha Alomang

- Panel discussion
Nabil Ahmed, Mama Yosepha Alomang, Markus Haluk, Andrew Hickman, Veronica Koman and Fadjar Schouten-Karwa



Marry Áilonieida Somby is an author, playwright and visual artists from Sirbmá in Deatnu (Tana). She is also a practicing Shaman. In 1976 she released her debut children’s novel, Ámmul ja alit oarbmælli (Ámmul and the Blue Cousin). This was the first children’s book to be published in a Sámi language. Since her debut, Somby has published a number of novels and poetry collections for children and adults and contributed to a range of curriculum text books. As a playwright she has seen many of her plays performed at the Sámi national theatre, Beaivváš. Sámi and global Indigenous perspectives are present in many of her works, such as in the novel Bajándávgi (The Thunder Bow) from 2004 and in the collection of poems titled Krigeren, elskeren og klovnen – Mu apache ráhkesvuohta (The Warrior, the Lover and the Clown) from 1994. Aspects of these works are informed by Somby’s time spent living and working with various Indigenous and First Nations peoples in the Americas, both North and South. Somby also resided in the United States for many years. While being central in the Áltá Action, Somby was also one of the initiators of the Sámi Girječálliid Searvvi (SGS, Sámi Authors’ Association). In 2016 she was nominated for The Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize together with illustrator Berit Marit Hætta, for the novel Čerbmen Bizi – Girdipilohtta (Bizi the Reindeer Calf – the Flying Pilot). For her role as playright for the theatre play Stainnak she was nominated for the Hedda Prize in 2012.

Irene Snarby is a Doctoral Research Fellow in Art History at SARP: The Sámi Art Research Project at UiT (Arctic University of Norway), where she is carrying out research into the works of the artist Iver Jåks for her PhD thesis. Snarby has worked as a curator within the Art Department of RiddoDuottarMuseat (Sámi Museums of Western Finnmark) in Kárášjohka (Karasjok in Norwegian) and has been a member of the Sámi Parliament’s Art Acquisitions Committee for Contemporary Art. For the last 20-years, she has written essays, given lectures and been an editor for several publications of Sámi art for over twenty years. Snarby has also been an advisor on important art projects such as the International Indigenous Art exhibition Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art at the National Gallery of Canada, in Ottawa, and There is no, at the Sámi Art Museum at Northern Norwegian Art Museum.

Megan Tamati-Quennell is Curator of Modern & Contemporary Māori and Indigenous Art at the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, the National Museum and Art Gallery of New Zealand. Her research interests include: Māori modernism and the works of post-war (1945) Māori artists; the first generation of contemporary Māori artists, Mana Wahine; Māori women artists of the 1970s and 1980s and 'The Māori Internationals' (artists who, with the advent of biculturalism, developed a postmodern construct peculiar to New Zealand and global Indigenous art with a particular focus on Indigenous art in Australia, Canada and the United States). She is currently developing a major retrospective exhibition of leading Māori modernist artist Paratene Matchitt for 2019; and working on a project that reframes Lisa Reihana’s 2017 Venice Biennale work In Pursuit of Venus [infected]. Tamati-Quennell has nearly 30 years of curatorial experience and is a leading specialist in the field of modern and contemporary Māori art. Her current projects include working as the commissioning curator for a major new installation by leading conceptual artist Michael Parekowhai (New Zealand’s 2011 Venice Biennale artist), a key project for the opening of the new Te Papa art gallery to 2018. She is a curatorial advisor for the 'Oceanic Show' (working title) due to open at the Royal Academy of Art, London, in September 2018, and for the second indigenous Quinquennial ‘Sakahàn’ to be held at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

Pauliina Feodoroff is a director of film and theatre and a writer, known for among others, CO2lonialNATION (Giron Sámi Teáhter, 2017) and Non Profit (film, 2007) for which she was awarded the SARV (The Finnish Critics’ Association) Critical Incentives Prize in 2007. Her family are originally from the Kola Peninsula, and she grew up in a family of reindeer herding Skolt Sámi. Feodoroff has fought for water and land rights as well as to preserve the reindeer husbandry in the old forests of Nellim in the east of Sápmi/Northern Finland. She has served as elected President of the Sami Council, a period during which Feodoroff visited many remote Sámi communities in Russia where she addressed the issue of mining companies occupying the land. She also participated in a multiannual study of land occupation which resulted in the critically acclaimed publication, Eastern Sámi Atlas (Tero Mustonen and Kaisu Mustonen (eds.), Snowchange Cooperative, 2011).

Sara Marielle Gaup Beaska is a musician, duojár and advocate of Indigenous peoples’ rights. She is known as one of Sápmi’s foremost yoikers alive today, carrying traditions and knowledges across to new generations while also mastering modern styles and techniques. She is one half of the duo, Arvvas, which she formed with bass player, Steinar Raknes in 2014. She is also known for her previous project, Adjágas – a collaboration with yoiker, Lawra Somby, and for numerous collaborations with musicians from Sápmi and other Indigenous nations. She recently held a central role in the Sámi alliance with the protests in Standing Rock, United States, and has been part of initiating actions against the new fishing agreement between Norway and Sweden in the Deatnu river. In 2018 she was awarded the Áillohaš prize during the Sami Grand Prix in Guovdageaidnu.

Eva Maria Fjellheim is a radio producer for the feminist radio station RadiOrakel. She is a south Sámi activist and an active member of the Norwegian Solidarity Committee for Latin America. Eva also holds an MA in development studies and geography where she wrote a thesis on indigenous peoples' rights.

Áine Mangaoang is a musicologist, educator, and musician based in Oslo. Her work is concerned with how music is experienced in everyday life, particularly by those at the margins of society. Her current research project, 'Prisons of Note', uses mixed methods, including sound and film-making, to map the role of music in contemporary places of detention. Her writing appears in the journals Postcolonial Text, and Torture, and her first monograph, Dangerous Mediations: Pop Music and Power, is published by Bloomsbury (forthcoming). Mangaoang is co-founder of Nordic Sounds, an interdisciplinary research group, and currently holds a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Oslo. Prior to this, Mangaoang held academic positions at the Iceland Academy of the Arts, Reykjavík, the Institute of Philippine Culture, Ateneo de Manila University, and the Institute of Popular Music, University of Liverpool.

Nabil Ahmed is an artist, writer and researcher. His transdisciplinary research explores the contemporary status of nature in relation to the law, conflict and development. Recently, Ahmed has participated in the Taipei Biennale (2012), Cuenca Biennale (2014) and HKW in Berlin, where he has been part of the two-year ‘Anthropocene Project’ (2013­–14). Ahmed is co-founder of Call and Response, a sound art organisation based in London. He is a member of the ERC-funded Forensic Architecture Project at Goldsmiths, which brings together architects, artists, filmmakers, activists and theorists to undertake research that gathers and presents spatial analysis in legal and political forums. Ahmed is a lecturer at The Cass School of Architecture at London Metropolitan and has previously taught in the department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has been a guest critic at the Architecture Association, University of Westminster Faculty of Architecture and the Royal College of Art, London. He is a fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart.

Mama Yosepha Alomang is a community leader in West Papua, Indonesia. For decades she has been a central figure in the local resistance against the destruction caused by Freeport-McMoRan’s Grasberg mine in Papua, the world’s largest gold and copper mine. In 2001, she was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for her long term efforts organising the community to resist the mining company’s devastating effects on the environment, as well as for uncovering their human rights violations and the government’s complacency. In 1999 she set up a foundation for human rights and anti-violence called YAHAMAK. Through their work, it has been Mama Yosepha’s aim to develop cultural programmes for young people and promoting self-reliance for women. She is a member of the Amungme community, one of West Papua’s many Indigenous peoples. Mama Yosepha is a recognised spokesperson on West Papua issues both in Indonesia and internationally.

Markus Haluk is the former Chairperson of the General Secretary of Central Highland Students’ Association of Papua and the Working Group of all West Papua pro-independence organisations. As an active advocate of Papuan independence and critic of the government’s support of the Freeport-McMoRan Grasberg mine in his country, he has been facing arrest by Indonesian authorities multiple times. He actively manifested for the closing down of the Grasberg mine. He has been doing advocacy on Freeport Grasberg mine since 2004. He is the current Executive Director of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua inside West Papua.

Andrew Hickman is an independent campaigner and researcher who has worked with Down to Earth, the international campaign for ecological justice in Indonesia and previously with Amnesty International. He is a board member of the London Mining Network and TAPOL, the campaign for human rights in Indonesia. He researches and campaigns on extractive issues in Indonesia and West Papua, in particular focusing on the mining and gas sectors. This work has involved looking at companies such as BHP Billiton, Bumi, BP and Rio Tinto. Currently, he is focused on large-scale extractivism in West Papua, particularly BP's Tangguh Liquid Natural Gas project and Rio Tinto's joint venture partnership with Freeport McMoran in the Grasberg mine. In looking at the links between international investment, extractivism, climate and ecological justice issues, he has worked to highlight the impacts on local communities and Indigenous peoples. Through this campaigning, the work has aimed particularly to facilitate local and Indigenous communities to advocate for themselves on these issues.

Veronica Koman is an Indonesian human rights lawyer focusing on West Papua issues, and is part of the growing pro-self-determination solidarity movement within Indonesia. Previously a public interest lawyer at the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute, she now advocates on grassroots and international human rights cases in West Papua. A member of International Lawyers for West Papua, Veronica is currently pursuing a Master of Laws at the Australian National University.

Fadjar Schouten-Korwa is an international lawyer for West Papua and former attorney-at-law who works as a senior lawyer at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. Since 2014 she has served as Chairperson of the Foundation International Lawyers for West Papua – a worldwide organisation of legal professionals of diverse backgrounds committed to end the gross human rights violations in West Papua, and to assist the Indigenous peoples of West Papua in exercising their right to self-determination under international law.

'Let the River Flow. The Sovereign Will and the Making of a New Worldliness' is the fruit of three years of dialogue with artists, scholars, and peoples across Sápmi (whose land traverses four nation-states: Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia). The exhibition showcases the essential role of Sámi artists in the action, in particular the seminal Mázejoavku: Sámi Dáiddajoavku (Sámi Artists’ Group, 1978-83), as well as the solidarity of non-Sámi counterparts. It presents rare historic works sidelined from the Nordic art historical canon, a small number of duodji, as well as material from the The Archives of the Protest Movement against the Damming of the Áltá-Guovdageaidnu Water System, and new contemporary commissions that explore the legacy of Áltá today. Let the River Flow is curated by Katya García-Antón, with Antonio Cataldo. The project has been honoured by the guidance of an Advisory Council consisting of Sámi scholars, Prof. Harald Gaski and Dr. Gunvor Guttorm. The exhibition design is the result of discussions between the curatorial team and a Sámi-Norwegian collaboration of the architects A-Lab (Káre R. Anti) and Torsteinsen Design.

Artworks by: Áillohaš/Nils-Aslak Valkeapää, Maria Thereza Alves, Jon Ole Andersen, Jimmie Durham, Elle Márjá Eira, Mai-Lis Eira, Aage Gaup, Trygve Lund Guttormsen, Josef Halse, Geir Tore Holm and Søssa Jørgensen, Rose-Marie Huuva, Berit Marit Hætta, Susanne Hætta, Iver Jåks, Keviselie/Hans Ragnar Mathisen, Britta Marakatt-Labba, Joar Nango and Tanya Busse, Rannveig Persen, Synnøve Persen, Máret Ánne Sara, Arvid Sveen, Catarina Utsi, and Elin Már Øyen Vister.

The Office for Contemporary Art Norway is a non-profit foundation created by the Norwegian Ministries of Culture and of Foreign Affairs in 2001, with an arm’s length policy. Its principle aim is to foster dialogue between the art field in Norway, including Sami practitioners, and the international arts scene; as well as support these artistic figures in their activities around the world. As a result, OCA’s discursive, exhibition, publication, residency and visitor programmes focus on bringing to Norway the plurality of practices and histories at the forefront of international artistic debates, and 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.