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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Pauliina Feodoroff 1 Photo Laura Malmivaara

Pauliina Feodoroff

Matriarchy (2022)
Performance in three acts, digital screen installation

Sámi Elder: Asta Mitkijá Balto

In collaboration with Terike Haapoja, Birit Haarla, Katja Haarla, Teuri Haarla, Marja Helander, Satu Herrala, Hanna Parry, Outi Pieski, Eséte Eshetu Sutinen, Snowchange Cooperative, Ulyana Yulina, What Form(s) Can an Atonement Take, Zodiak – Center for New Dance. Camera: Stina Aletta Aikio, Pauliina Feodoroff, Kevin Francett, Petri Mentu, Markus Moshnikoff, Susanna Rauno.

Performance dates:

Friday 22 April, 15:30 – 16:30
Saturday 23 April, 15:00 – 16:00
Monday 25 April, 15:00 – 16:00
Saturday 27 August, 15:00 – 16:00
Sunday 28 August, 15:00 – 16:00
Friday 21 October, 15:00 – 16:00
Saturday 22 October, 15:00 – 16:00

Pauliina Feodoroff Matriarchy 2022 Performance at The Sami Pavilion Photo Chen Chun Lun OCA
Pauliina Feodoroff, 'Matriarchy', 2022. Documentation from performance at ‘The Sámi Pavilion’, 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, 'The Milk of Dreams', Venice (23 April–27 November 2022). Photo: Chen Chun-Lun / OCA
Pauliina Feodoroff, 'Matriarchy', 2022. Documentation from performance at ‘The Sámi Pavilion’, 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, 'The Milk of Dreams', Venice (23 April–27 November 2022). Music from the performance: Mun Da'Han Lean Oaivámus (Phono Remix) · Mari Boine
Pauliina Feodoroff Matriarchy 2022 Performance at The Sami Pavilion Photo Michael Miller OCA
Pauliina Feodoroff, 'Matriarchy', 2022. Documentation from performance at ‘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

Finland has treated the ancestral land we have lived in for centuries as their natural resource to exploit and sell piece by piece to any market that needs it. Sámi forests are logged for toilet paper. I have spent my life documenting all the losses on multiple levels, but now it’s vital to focus on what we still have and how to make it stronger. When the earth is transforming, life needs havens and time to adapt. My work proposes ways to protect the last remaining old growth forests and let the logged areas have a time to heal. Our message is, please do not buy our land, buy our art instead.

— Pauliina Feodoroff

Pauliina Feodoroff Matriarchy 2022 Performance at The Sami Pavilion Photo Chen Chun Lun OCA Outi Piseki
Pauliina Feodoroff, 'Matriarchy', 2022. Documentation from performance at ‘The Sámi Pavilion’, 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, 'The Milk of Dreams', Venice (23 April–27 November 2022). Photo: Chen Chun-Lun / OCA

Feodoroff is a Skolt Sámi theatre director, artist and land-guardian whose long-standing practice reverts the impact of two interconnected processes endangering Sámi futures. On the one hand, the industrial deforestation of old growth forests causing the collapse of rivers, fishing customs, and the lichens reindeer feed on. On the other hand, state-led privatisation of land that destroys the collective models of existence and care underpinning Sámi society. Matriarchy is a collective performance of healing and renewal, conceived as a process of rematriation to return to a world of kinship between people, land, waters, spirits, and other-than human beings.

“Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples have never properly greeted each other”, as Feodoroff explains when describing the first part of the performance, titled First Contact. The epistemic violence this has generated continues to define the assymetric relations between these worlds today. In this first section, the performance contrasts colonised and Indigenous gesturality. On the one hand, submission is choreographed to highlight how colonial layers of violence inhabit Indigenous bodies. On the other hand, the practice of gift-giving is enacted as a central element of Sámi philosophy, that guides the relations of care between Indigenous people, with lands and other entities, and that were mistaken by settlers as an acceptance of domination, and subsequently transformed into forms of colonial taxation and control.

Part two, Auction, presents images of Sámi landscapes currently under threat from commercial logging. These land(person)scapes, portraying the land and related guardians, are ‘auctioned off’ as artworks during the performance, setting the scene for the actual sale of the works that is happening in real time, as a parallel process of the project. The funds raised are channelled through the Snowchange Cooperative (an NGO and network of scientists and Sámi knowledge holders) to purchase and restore these landscapes and their communities. The buyers (museums and collectors) are bound in a relationship with Feodoroff and the land guardians, that gives buyers the chance to view these protected lands in the future. In between performances, the images will be on permanent display in the pavilion as a video installation presenting the land(person)scapes for sale, and a land(person)video drawn from the rehearsals on the land that led to the performance.

In part three, Matriarchy, Indigenous female bodies converge in actions that ask us to be aware of our responsibilities in a world of relations. The performance centres matriarchal values of care and collective models of existence to restore sovereign forms of living in Sámi society.

Pauliina Feodoroff Matriarchy 2022 Installation view The Sami Pavilion Photo Michael Miller OCA
Pauliina Feodoroff, 'Matriarchy', 2022. Installation 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
Pauliina Feodoroff Matriarchy 2022 Performance at The Sami Pavilion Photo Michael Miller OCA 3
Pauliina Feodoroff, 'Matriarchy', 2022. Performance at 'The Sámi Pavilion'. Photo: Michael Miller / OCA
Portrait film of Pauliina Feodoroff by Forest People AS. Commissioned by OCA, 2022