Acknowledgement of the Sámi people

OCA acknowledges the Sámi as one people, and as the Indigenous people of the Fennoscandian region. On the land of this region, Sápmi, the Sámi people have lived since time immemorial, respectfully harvesting from nature by fishing, farming, hunting and following reindeer, amongst other activities.

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Máret Ánne Sara

Gutted – Gávogálši (2022)
Reindeer stomachs

Ale suova sielu sáiget
(2022)
Cured red reindeer calves, cotton grass, birch branches, gámasuoidni (shoegrass)

Du-ššan-ahttanu-ššan (2022)

Reindeer sinews, wax, molecular compositions: fear (reindeer under stress, reindeer stools, diesel motors), hope (maternal breast milk, reindeer milk, newborns, tundra)

Smells created in collaboration with Nadjib Achaibou and Oswaldo Maciá.

Sámi Elder: Fimben Áillo Gáren / Káren E. M. Siri Utsi

Maret Anne Sara Gutted Gavogalsi 2022 Ale suova sielu saiget 2022 Photo Michael Miller OCA
Foreground: Máret Ánne Sara, 'Gutted – Gávogálši', (2022). Background: Máret Ánne Sara, 'Ale suova sielu sáiget', (2022). Exhibition view: ‘The Sámi Pavilion’, 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, 'The Milk of Dreams', Venice (23 April–27 November 2022). Photo: Michael Miller / OCA
'Ale suova sielu sáiget' 'Du-ššan-ahttanu-ššan' and 'Gutted – Gávogálši' (2022). Exhibition view: ‘The Sámi Pavilion’, 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, 'The Milk of Dreams', Venice (23 April–27 November 2022).
Maret Anne Sara Ale suova sielu saiget 2022 Photo Michael Miller OCA
Máret Ánne Sara, 'Ale suova sielu sáiget', (2022).Exhibition view: ‘The Sámi Pavilion’, 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, The Milk of Dreams, Venice (23 April–27 November 2022). Photo: Michael Miller / OCA
Maret Anne Sara Du ssan ahttanu ssan 2022 Installation view The Sami Pavilion Photo Michael Miller OCA
Máret Ánne Sara, 'Du-ššan-ahttanu-ššan', (2022). Exhibition view: ‘The Sámi Pavilion’, 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, 'The Milk of Dreams', Venice (23 April–27 November 2022). Photo: Michael Miller / OCA

After the long and hard struggle our family has been through against the Norwegian state to protect our reindeer from forced slaughtering, I have a strong need to seek and manifest faith and hope. I tell my stories through the reindeer because what happens to the reindeer also happens to us. From an Indigenous perspective, I don’t see humans as superior or central. As human beings on this earth, we are simply a part of an interconnection of life forms and the constant dialogue and interdependence between these. My work asks questions about what happens when outside powers enforce laws upon you that systematically force you to break your own and collective ethics and morals, epistemology and philosophy. When your sanity is criminalised, how do you counter and continue?
—Máret Ánne Sara

Based in Guovdageaidnu, in the Norwegian side of Sápmi, Sara comes from a tundra reindeer herding family. The three works presented in the pavilion were conceived in the aftermath of a seven-year legal battle with the Norwegian state to defend the herding rights of her younger brother, one of the many court cases experienced by young Sámi reindeer herders today. Sara’s focus on the reindeer as the cornerstone of Sámi life is intended to heal and repair the inflicted trauma. The works were made following Sámi ethics and methods of sustainable resource use, finding value in reindeer parts not used for food and clothing; the animals presented died a natural death.

Gutted – Gávogálši is a constellation of dried reindeer stomachs addressing Sámi spiritual and material forms of knowledge and kinship. The work highlights the stomach as a first site of emotion to events in the world and underlines their sensate power as a parallel intelligence that connects humans, reindeers and other life. This gamus dovdat and čoalit dovdet, which translates as ‘we know by instinct’ and ‘gut feeling’, is highly valued by Sámi philosophy. Each stomach represents a person responsible for the conflicts recently experienced by the Sara family; in so doing, the artist redirects the trauma back onto the perpetrators, cleansing herself and her family from it.

Ale suova sielu sáiget is a rotating sculpture composed of cured calves and dried plants from the tundra, conceived as a carrousel of death and birth, fear and joy, trauma and hope. It was created whilst the artist was carrying her first-born and considered the future of Sámi youth in a colonially unbalanced world. Through the work the artist grieves the loss of the red newborn calves to state-imposed pressures (such as the effect of environmental laws over protecting alpha predators) as well as to starvation resulting from the growing impact of climate change; she rejoices in each calf born as the carrier of new life, as a continuation of the herd and of the Sámi people.

Du-ššan-ahttanu-ššan consists of two suspended, cloud-like forms of reindeer sinews, imbued with smell, as an elementary part of the non-verbal communication that happens between lifeforms and their surroundings. The smell in one of the forms conjures the ongoing stress and fear experienced by humans and reindeers during colonising processes; and in the other, the hope needed to resist and generate a new future.

Maret Anne Sara Gutted Gavogalsi 2022 Photo Michael Miller OCA
Máret Ánne Sara, 'Gutted – Gávogálši', (2022). Exhibition view: ‘The Sámi Pavilion’, 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, 'The Milk of Dreams', Venice (23 April–27 November 2022). Photo: Michael Miller / OCA
Portrait film of Máret Ánne Sara by Forest People AS. Commissioned by OCA, 2020