Skjermbilde 2021 10 25 kl 15 24 57
May '19 – Dec '23

Art, Colonialism, Indigeneity. A Time for Truth and Reconciliation?

Sámiráđđi / The Saami Council, OCA and KORO partnered to develop a project reflecting upon the shortfalls and opportunities to be found in the model of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a tool (both current and future) to counter the experience of colonialism by the Indigenous people of the Fennoscandian region, the Sámi. How does a Truth and Reconciliation process drive the much needed process of healing colonial wounds, inflicted onto the indivisible bond between Sámi bodies, lands and spiritual beliefs, and in so doing, asks how it can bring closer together Sámi and Norwegian citizens whose perspectives today may at times appear irreconcilable.

This is a two-part project consisting of an Open Call to commission an artwork in the public space of the city of Oslo and Dialogues series to be disseminated through the Nordic region and internationally. The project situates itself independently of – but in relation to – the formal process of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission initiated in Norway in 2018, and due to conclude in June 2023, but also reflects upon the successes and failures of a similar process conducted on Turtle Island in Canada in 2015.

Art, Colonialism, Indigeneity. A Time for Truth and Reconciliation? casts a bold gaze over the impact of historical and current colonial processes endured by the Sámi people, normalised in broad terms by Norwegian society, and questions how a Truth and Reconciliation commission can endeavour to address them. It asks how the visual arts can bring the following two key questions to the attention of society: To what extent does today's Norwegian society recognise the inter-connected experiences of epistemicide and ecocide that have been and continue to be a direct consequence of state-enforced colonial policies and infrastructures? Secondly, to what extent do Norwegian citizens consider it their civic duty, together with their fellow Sámi citizens, to play a collective role in realising the ambitions contingent with such life-affirming terms as ‘truth’ and ‘reconciliation’?

Art, Colonialism, Indigeneity. A Time for Truth and Reconciliation? launched with an Open Call to Sámi artists who would like to develop a permanent or time-based art project in the public space of the city of Oslo, with critical and aesthetic thinking revolving around these issues. The format or process that such a project might take is open.

It is important to consider the historical and political context of Oslo as the host of this Open Call: a city which witnessed the ground-breaking Sámi hunger-strikers and sit-ins of the Alta Action of 1978–1981 and which responded with overwhelming solidarity, yet a city in which there is barely a trace of such a momentous historic event; a city whose identity today is indelibly marked by a significant Sámi population and yet has no public symbol to honour their contributions to society; and a city in which national policy is debated and legislated with long-lasting implications upon how Sápmi and Norway together will face the opportunities and challenges to come.