“Arctic Highways” Exhibition

Scandinavia House

poster for “Arctic Highways” Exhibition

This event has ended.

Scandinavia House, Arctic Highways brings together the artwork and handicrafts of 12 Indigenous artists from Sápmi, Canada and Alaska in an exhibition highlighting the thriving cultural and spiritual communities of the Arctic region.

Curated by Indigenous artists Tomas Colbengtson, Gunvor Guttorm, Dan Jåma and Britta Marakatt-Labba, the exhibition includes their own works alongside those of artists Matti Aikio, Marja Helander, Laila Susanna Kuhmunen, Olof Marsja, Máret Ánne Sara, Sonya Kelliher-Combs, Maureen Gruben and Meryl McMaster.

The exhibition’s opening day on Saturday, April 15 will include a special Performance, Film Screening & Panel Discussion of Uaajeerneq – The Greenlandic Mask Dance & Historjá – Stitches For Sápmi from 1-5 PM. The event will begin with a 1 PM performance by Greenlandic dancer Elisabeth Heilmann Blind of “UaaJeerneq – the Greenlandic Mask Dance,” the oldest dramatic expression among the Inuits in Greenland. At 2 PM following a brief intermission, we will hold a screening of the film Historjá – Stitches For Sápmi (dir. Thomas Jackson, Sweden, 2022), depicting artist Britta Marakatt-Labba’s battle for her culture against the threats of climate change. The film will be followed by a music performance by Sámi Yoiker Lars-Henrik Blind; and at 3:30 PM, the event will conclude with a panel discussion with Britta Marakatt-Labba, Thomas Jackson, Elisabeth Heilmann Blind, and Tomas Colbengtson.

Other events on opening weekend include a screening and film Q&A on Friday, April 14 of acclaimed documentary filmmaker Shannon Kring’s The End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock (USA/Finland, 2021), the incredible story of a group of Indigenous women willing to risk their lives to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline construction, with a film Q&A by Shannon Kring along with activists and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe members Phyllis Young and Wašté Wičaku Win Yellow Lodge Young. Coordinated alongside the UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues 2023 from April 17-28, the opening weekend will be followed by a film event “Climate Actions — Future Changes” at Scandinavia House on April 21 & 22, featuring a panel discussion and reception on April 21 with Elle Máijá Tailfeathers (Sámi/Blackfoot, Canada), Emile Hertling Péronard (Inuk, Greenland), Anna Hoover (Unangax̂, USA), and AIFF’s Liisa Holmberg (Sápmi), moderated by Jason Ryle (Canada), followed by film screenings on April 22 of the films Salmon Reflection; Ealát; Ivalu; and Night Raiders.

Complementary Arctic & Indigenous programming will continue through April and May with a book talk on April 18with Barbara Sjoholm on From Lapland to Sápmi, her new book exploring the cultural history of Sápmi and the Nordic countries as told through objects and artifacts, out now from University of Minnesota Press, followed by the film series “Spotlight Greenland,” with screenings beginning April 26 with Nuummioq (dir. Torben Bech & Otto Rosing, Greenland, 2009), the first feature film filmed and produced in Greenland in 2009; director Ivalo Frank’s acclaimed documentary The Last Human (Siunissaq Det Sidste Menneske, Greenland/Denmark/Germany, 2022) on May 3; The Fight for Greenland (Kampen om Grønland, dir. Kenneth Sorento, Denmark/Greenland/Norway, 2020) on May 10; and more.

The exhibition includes a wide range of artworks and duodji Sámi handicrafts including Britta Marakatt-Labba’s narrative embroidery portraying motifs from Sámi culture and history; sculpture works by Máret Ánne Sara utilizing traditional objects such as the komsekula silver amulet (believed in Sámi culture to have protective powers); handmade clothing and sculpture works by Laila Susanna Kuhmunen; mixed-media sculptures by Gunvor Guttorm; and Tomas Colbengtson’s The Children of the Sun, which incorporates a traditional shaman drum with portraits of Sámi heroes, including poets, artists and linguists.

Many works explore Sámi identity, such as the sculptures of Olof Marsja, which incorporate organic, industrial and handmade materials into ambiguous figures and objects; photographs by Meryl McMaster, which examine the self in relation to land, lineage, history, and culture; and video works by artists Matti Aikio and Dan Jåma. The exhibition also looks at the contemporary context of the Arctic, as in Sonya Kelliher-Combs’s mixed-media art focusing on the changing North and our relationship to nature and each other; images and video by Maureen Gruben, who investigates life in the Arctic within global environmental concerns; and Marja Helander’s photography series North, which examines the dependence between humans and nature through landscapes and portraits.

Generous support for this exhibition has been received from Nordea, the Inger G. & William B. Ginsberg Support Fund, the Bonnier Family Fund for Contemporary Art and the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation. Additional support has been received by the Consul General of Sweden in New York.



from April 15, 2023 to July 23, 2023

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