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ARTIST PRESENTATION: ÅSNE KUMMENEJE MELLEM (NOR / KVEN)

Åsne Kummeneje Mellem is a Kven artist using her practice to investigate the Kven culture through visual mediums such as Kven crafts, Käsityö and photography.

She holds a BA in medium and material-based art at The National Academy of the Arts in Oslo and has completed two years at Oslo School of Art Photography (OFKS). Kummeneje Mellem is the first Kven artist to be purchased by Nord-Norsk Kunstmuseum.

Through her engagements in the Kven community and organizations, Kummeneje Mellem gets inspired to explore the fragments of the Kven culture that are left in today’s society. Tellings of traditional ways of doing from people in the community are combined with a need to visually express her minority culture. When the elders tell stories about how they dyed textiles with lichen, Kummeneje Mellem takes this as a challenge. She uses the fragmented stories as a template for her works, harvesting materials and exploring the way of creating something “the Kven way”.

The title “I Never Learnt my Mother Tongue” is a reference to the gap of knowledge dividing the generations because of the assimilation period. Through the scene of contemporary art, Kummeneje Mellem is able to explore what it means to be a Kven artist today, developing the culture within, as well as showing the culture to others.

As Young Arctic Artists 2021 Åsne has a double role both as artist and as curator.

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ARTIST PRESENTATION: HENNA MATTILA (FIN)

Henna Mattila (b. 1990, Kauhajoki, Finland) is a photographer, visual artist and arts educator, who is based in Rovaniemi, Finland and Haparanda, Sweden. The focus of her work is on her artistic practice and arts education, actively working on personal projects and art-based community projects, both nationally and internationally. 

Mattila completed BA Honours in Photography in 2013 and MA in Curatorial Practice in 2014 and is currently finishing her Art Education, Cultural History and Art History studies at University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland. In her projects Mattila approaches the questions of identity, aimless wanders in nature and in rural areas, changes in nature due to global warming and how one exists in relationship to their surroundings and to themselves.

Ephemeral Paintings depict the disappearing snowy winters, reminiscing them and their colours. The climate is changing, especially in the arctic areas. How to defend the existence of snowy winters when the cold is considered undesirable? Who decides how many white winters we have left? For the project Mattila went through thousands of photos from her personal archives that cover over a decade of wintery photos. The photomontages have been made by digitally painting several old and new photos together, creating glimpses of snowy winters gone by.

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ARTIST PRESENTATION: ANNIKA SELLIK (NOR / EST / Iisakumaa)

As Annika Sellik’s practice is mostly installation orientated, she is focusing on the presence of the viewer and the perceptions of the viewer; the installation becomes a sensitive field creating space to dream as well as engaging the viewer where one is invited to follow their reflections as they are being activated.

Since her previous studies include philology and literature studies, text has a strong presence in her process of practice methods.

Originally from Iisakumaa (North-East of Estonia), she is currently based in Tromsø, studying MA in Fine Arts at the Tromsø Art Academy.

Installation “Repeter, muet” (2020) consisting of a visual poem διʹγάπης and a wall piece – Muet.

διʹγάπης, visual poem (paper, fishing string, weaving on frame; sculpted in a møbius strip)

διʹγάπης _- ancient greek: via profound love, through love.

All living is growing and breathing διʹγάπης; as connecting the eternity. Because of love and for love. This is endless. Our will to love is endless. The profound reach and fight. This will is simple, but yet inexplicable.

Möbius strip – non-orientable surface, where a figure could move continuously on the surface and back to its starting point, so that it looks like its own mirror-image. “In a non-orientable world, our image and the one we see in the mirror would be indistinguishable”. Scientifically described as an “impossible object”. Object with only one side, symbolizing infinity and constant movement.

Muet, wall piece (loose canvas, unstretched on a frame, having a structure within itself; covered with bioplastics)

From Latin mutus and Greek μύειν, is regarded as an onomatopoetic formation referring not to silence but to a certain fundamental opacity of human being, which likes to show the truth by allowing it to be seen hiding.

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Artist presentation: Alina Belyagina (RUS) & Amie Jammeh ( GM / SWE)

Choreographer Alina Belyagina works between dance and theatre with extensive use of video and text. She is educated at the Moscow State University of Culture and Arts (Journalism) . She spent three years in Poland learning ancient Greek and Latin and working as a classical ballet teacher in Silesian Dance Theater and Rozbark Dance and Movement Theater. After moving to Germany she started her choreographic career by participating in Soltunatu Tantsu Lava The PREMIERE`17 residency in Tallinn and then started working with Freies Theater München where she continued to study dance while doing projects in Brussels and Tel Aviv.

Alina ’s works are presented internationally in platforms such as: LAOS Contemporary Dance Festival, Open Look Festival Saint-Petersburg, Tanzwerkstatt Europa Munich, Euro-Scene Leipzig, International Solo Tanz Theater Stuttgart, Process/Talk Tel-Aviv.

Dancer Amie Jammeh has her origin from The Gambia and Sweden. She began dancing at a young age, starting mostly with hip hop & urban styles before she decided to go more into the contemporary scene when she was in her 20s. In 2017, she graduated from Iwanson International School of Contemporary Dance in Munich and after that she worked with the director of the school, Johannes Härtl, for 2 years. In 2019 she attended a Martial Arts Academy in the Tianmeng mountains in north end China where she studied Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Shaolin Kung Fu, and from which she graduated the same year. She is now working as a multidisciplinary freelance dancer while also continuing her studies about Chinese martial arts as well as studying to become a movement therapist. The different directors that she has been working with so far includes Anouk Van Dijk, Falk Richter, Company WangRamirez, Antu Romero Nunes, Dustin Klein, Johanna Richter, Anta Helena Recke, Mario Lopes & Bui Rouch.

“What happens to a human body when it is immersed in a state of ultraviolence? How does the fact of having a weapon in our hands choreograph our movement, formulate our intentions? In the center of our artistic investigation is a body that reflects everything that happens outside. Thinking about the ways how ideologies shape our bodies and minds, in a very subtle way they restructure us from the inside, choreograph our bodies and finally make our bodies unable to act freely.”

Alina’s and Amie’s collaboration, the performance “Image we combat with” will be presented in Cultural House Wiljami (Urheilukatu 1), Saturday 4th at 7pm, together with Olga Krüssenberg’s videowork “Slowly I Move in Your Direction”. The event in the Wiljami is a part of the opening of the YAA exhibition. Before that, we start at Gallery Napa at 5pm. Entrance for both events is free!

Photo Credit: Santeri Happonen
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Artist presentation: Maiya Syrstad Jerijervi

Born and raised in rural Kirkenes, 23-year-old Maiya had big and ambitious dreams about her future. It consisted of moving away, to become a successful graphic designer and graffiti artist: not getting a 9-to-5-job. Turns out, it was not that easy, and dreams were withheld when Maiya went to study at the university of Oslo. The academic education pushed away time being creative. After university, Maiya decided to pursue art school, and become an art teacher: ironically a 9-to-5-job. This time around Maiya has one year left of art school, and has a lot of time doing what she really wanted, and probably will for the rest of her career.

My grandfather and his brother both died suddenly after being ill for a short period of time. They both left a legacy behind; their kven ancestry. What is left behind is just stories and pictures, just as the rest of the kvens who lived which we know about. What my painting depicts is them still very much alive, but gone. Just as their legacy is.

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ARTIST PRESENTATION: KARIN KEISU (SWE/Meänmaa) & JOSSE THURESSON (SWE)

Karin Keisu and Josse Thuresson have been working as a collaborative duo since 2018. Their projects take the form of text, film, performance, digital installations and curating, addressing politics of language, queer time and the strength of being on the margins. Educated at Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and at Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design.

In the video work Det här språket är inte övergivet än / Tätä kieltä ei ole vielä hylätty / This language is not abandoned yet, we meet Sune who shows us the frosty shell in Korpilombolo, that between 1903 and 1954 was one of the many working houses in Tornedalen. It was a key element in the swedification of Norrbotten, but in the film it becomes a meeting place for conversations about identity and loss, and a site for inserting the language where it once was forbidden. Three young Tornedalians build on their shared experience of being robbed of a language and the longing for reclaiming it.

Det här språket är inte övergivet än / Tätä kieltä ei ole vielä hylätty / This language is not abandoned yet is part of an ongoing series of works investigating normality and nationalism in relation to the oppression of minority languages in Sweden. Two narratives unfold parallel to each other, one centering the assimilation processes in Tornedalen, and the other following how deaf and hearing impaired people had to speak and read lips during the ban of sign language between 1880 and 1981 in Sweden. The project researches events that have made an impact on the two languages, and highlights narratives striving for a multi-lingual future.

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ARTIST PRESENTATION : JOHANNES HEIKKILÄ (FIN)

Johannes Heikkilä is a visual artist based in Rovaniemi, Finland. Heikkilä graduated in 2010 from the Free Art School and from Academy of Fine Arts (University of the Arts, Helsinki) Department of Printmaking in 2019.

Heikkilä’s background is in painting, but the core of his practice is primarily in woodcutting, imprints and various aspects of drawing.

Heikkilä’s artistic practice deals with constructions as concrete structures, but also as some kind of reflections of inner worlds. The works are abstract-figurative interpretations of existence, the dimensions of construction and destruction. The form of the work reflects an existential-conceptual standard of living that brings out social criticism in places. At first it was white tune in the points and forms of mind construction while “Here, where a dead tree does not provide shade” reflects the shadow side of organized society. The themes of the works bounce between environments and influences.

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ARTIST PRESENTATION: M SEPPOLA SIMONSEN (NOR / Kven)

M Seppola Simonsen is a Norwegian-Kven poet from Northern Norway. M has a bachelor’s degree in English literature and Spanish from the University College Dublin, and is currently studying sociology at the University of Oslo. In the summer of 2020, Seppola Simonsen debuted with the poetry single “Nord”. The single explores northern identity and Kven heritage.

“Nord” (North) was published by Flamme Forlag in June of 2020. It is a short-form poetry single with a focus on the intersection between identity and geography. Specifically, the work discusses Kven heritage, integrating Kven words and phrases into Norwegian poetry.

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ARTIST PRESENTATION: OLGA KRÜSSENBERG (SWE)

Olga Krüssenberg works with moving images and installations. She currently lives and works in Stockholm. Krüssenberg has a bachelor’s degree from The Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm and has studied documentary filmmaking at Biskops Arnö and Ölands Folkhögskola.

“The film “Slowly I Move in Your Direction” is a family chronicle of three generations. It is based on a secret that was recently revealed in the family and that has reshaped our understanding of who my grandmother was as a person. Through my grandmother’s story, which is told through the memories of her children, the film reflects on the consequences of mental illness, on not being able to have a choice of one’s own and what this does to a person. It is about what a human life means, and about the memories that remain when that human is no longer around to speak.

Most families carry their secrets, in mine it concerns a child given away for adoption. The film is my way of zooming in on an individual’s destiny to speak about a collective experience. With the film I also present a book that contains excerpts from my grandmother’s journals, as well as my own poems. It is a way of redocumenting a human life that includes more than medical records could ever do.

I have been occupied with this project for three years. I began by conducting interviews and used them to later shape the storyline. Since it was frequently mentioned that my grandmother longed to return to her hometown in northern Ostrobothnia, I chose to film there. Throughout the process I have continuously written a diary, from which I developed my text work.”

Olga’s videowork “Slowly I Move in Your Direction” (2018-2021) will be presented both in Studio Mustanapa during the exhibition and in the opening festival in Cultural House Wiljami.

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ARTIST PRESENTATION: IDA ISAK WESTERBERG (SWE / Meänmaa )

Ida Isak Westerberg has their feet deep in the peat outside of Övertorneå and lives in Älvsbyn, Norrbotten where they have their studio. With a diploma in handweaving from Friends of Handicraft, Ida Isak wants to challenge expectations of what weaving is supposed to be and look like. During the years of 2019 to 2021 Ida Isak worked with an exhibition called “När myren talar” (When the mire speaks) with artist Anna Classon where they explored the biological processes in the mire through textile and photography. That project started a process in Ida Isak where they, through physically working on a mire outside of Övertorneå, also connected more deeply to their Meänmaa roots.

“While working with the mire, I find a queer space where I am embraced by resilience, resistance and time, where the damp moss invites me in, offering possibilities I never could have asked for. The peat whispers to me in Meänkieli and I know that I belong in so many different ways. This is where I start, but where will it lead me?”

“Sompasenvuoma” (2021) are two handwoven pieces charged with the energy that the mire keeps. They have been buried in the peat for a month and then covered with plants and berries from the mire for two weeks. The result may be as steady as a quagmire but if the colours fade, it’s possible to charge it again.