University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Infrastructural Geographies - Department of Geography > Memories in the Skolt Sámi Area of the Arctic: Notes from a Visiting Artist

Memories in the Skolt Sámi Area of the Arctic: Notes from a Visiting Artist

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This talk focuses on an artistic engagement with memories of home, roots and culture in the three Skolt Sámi villages of Čeʼvetjäuʼrr (Sevettijärvi), Keväjäuʼrr (Keväjärvi) and Njeäʼllem (Nellim) in Sápmi, northern Finland. The issues of colonisation, land rights and representation are as relevant today as they have ever been at a time when the United Nations openly criticised the Finnish Supreme Court for disrespecting the autonomy of the Sámi Parliament.

The talk opens with a historical contextualisation of the relationship between life in the Skolt Sámi villages and the Finnish state. It then moves to talk through my experience of collaborative art practice as a visitor to the area. The project I developed with local people deals with oral histories through personal or passed on stories and Skolt Sámi traditional music/ memory leu’dd. The aim of the installation is to place recorded voices in proximity with a museum setting so that different temporalities of memory are brought together.

The process of working on the installation raised questions of the conditions of remembering: How can one stay sensitive to what Helga West calls research fatigue? How to work in a place where so many ethnographers, linguists and other researchers have come before? How can one genuinely collaborate and explore the issues as a visitor? What can be gained in terms of representing memories by placing contemporary voices in proximity to a museum?

This talk is part of the Infrastructural Geographies - Department of Geography series.

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