“There are Sami curators, but we need more, and the field needs to be developed”

1 December 2020

Susanne Haetta.jpg
Govven/Foto: Ingerid Jordal

Interview with Susanne Hætta, author, artist and photographer, Vadsø, and CIMAM 2020 StayHome Curatorial Online Residency grantee. Published originally by Dáiddadállu, 19 November 2020.

It is the first time in 40 years that we have an exhibition dedicated to Mázejoavku artist group. The audience will see works that have never been shown before, so it will be a special experience.

This is what Susanne Hætta says, who has curated her first exhibition ‘Iežamet - What is ours’, which opens at Guovdageaidnu Gilišilju Riddo Duottar museum on Sunday 22 November.

Photographer, author and now curator

There are not many Sámi curators and it is much discussed internally in the field, such as here at Dáiddadállu. Susanne Hætta is one of three who have recently been included in the curatorial program CIMAM's StayHome Curatorial Online Residency, which the Office for Contemporary Art initiated in collaboration with the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art.

We have had a chat with Susanne about the special exhibition that soon opens for the public and about the position Sámi curator.

Is this the first exhibition you curate?

Yes. It also has a connection to my book, Mázejoavku. Indigenous Collectivity and Art, published by DAT and OCA and recently released during ‘EadnámetMaid’. The exhibition includes works by the eight artists of Mázejoavku. The theme of ‘EadnámetMaid’, violence against nature, was also something that these eight artists were interested in, namely the Áltá Action. The exhibition thus draws direct lines from 40 years back to the present day.

How have you worked with the exhibition?

First, I have oriented myself around the works to put together an exhibition. Some use years on curating a project; I had two months. I related to the fact that it was the work of 8 artists, I kept a dialogue with most artists, and was looking at pieces that could be relevant. I wanted the results to enter the theme with a little subtle emphasis on Sámi rights, Sámi life, mythology, and Sámi nature thinking. I have also worked on finding works that had never been shown publicly before, to present something new.

How do you think the exhibition would have differed if it had been an outside curator instead of a Sámi curator?

It's a difficult question. I have a different perspective because I know the history of Mázejoavku so well, and I have information about these works that have never been shown publicly before, so I have a unique advantage. Also, I can look at it differently because these are artists that I feel related to because we are Sámi artists. It was very nice that Dáiddadállu asked me to do this.

Selection for CIMAM's StayHome Curatorial Online Residence.

CIMAM, International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art, and OCA - Office for Contemporary Art Norway launched the collaborative project StayHome Online Curatorial Residency to support curatorial and research development of contemporary art professionals living in Norway, with priority to professionals from Sámi or diaspora backgrounds.

Susanne is one of the three selected for the program.

It is exciting to have an international mentor to be able to develop in that direction. There are Sámi curators, but we need more, and the field needs to be developed. Therefore, such types of programs like the one CIMAM is offering is essential. But it is clear that having a Sámi curatorial education or course in Sámi curatorial practice would be good, for example at Sámi Allaskuvla in Guovdageaidnu, says Susanne.

Tell us about the works in this exhibition. What is special about them?

Josef Halse and Synnøve Persen often paint abstractly, but both are rooted in nature and the Sami landscape. I wanted to show that. But Synnøve Persen painted figuratively early in her art education but stopped after 1978. She has painted only three figurative works in total, and it is unique that we have included one of them in the exhibition.

Rannveig Persen's works are not easy to obtain, but I borrowed a drawing made in Máze when she lived at the artist center. It is directly connected to Máze with a view from where she lived. It is a very nice connection to that landscape and to that time period.

Hans Ragnar Mathisen is known for his maps with only Sámi place names. It was completely unheard of then at that time. We will exhibit one of the first maps he drew by hand.

Then we have "Sáráhkka" by Berit Marit Hætta, which has not been shown before. It shows the exquisite skills behind the work with her background as a duojár and her connection to the Sámi mythological world. I'm thrilled to exhibit it.

You have collaborated with Dáiddadállu artist Ann-Sofie Kallok. What role has she had and what does it mean to have Dáiddadállu (a group of artists) to support in with tasks like this?

It's much work, so it's good to be two. Dáiddadállu and we have also collaborated with the Gilišilju Riddo Duottar museum. That is very positive. They offer exhibition space and expertise. Ann-Sofie is a duojár and designer that has been a great help when it comes to placing works in the room, and it´s been practical in that she lives in Guovdageaidnu. It's good to have someone to consult with on the artistic decisions I make. Very good!

"Iežamet - That which is ours" shows works by the Sámi artist group Mázejoavku, mainly early works. Mázejoavku was established by eight Sami artists in 1978, was also called Masigruppa or Sámi Artist Group. It consisted of Aage Gaup, Trygve Lund Guttormsen (d. 2012), Josef Halse, Berit Marit Hætta, Britta Marakatt-Labba, Hans Ragnar Mathisen, Rannveig Persen and Synnøve Persen.

Part of EadnámetMaid

The exhibition opens at Gilišilju in Guovdageaidnu / Kautokeino on Sunday 22 November at 13.00. The exhibition is made in collaboration between Dáiddadállu and RiddoDuottar Museat, and is a continuation of the digital art event ‘EadnámetMaid’ earlier this November.

EadnámetMaid” is a program where art and conversations on the topic of violence against nature and it’s effects on human lives, are in focus. The project is produced by Dáiddadállu and is a collaboration with the Sámi Parliament in Norway and Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA). More info about ‘EadnámetMaid’ can be found here: https://www.daiddadallu.com/ blog.

Due to infection control measures, only a limited number of visitors are allowed at the opening itself. The exhibition runs until 29 January 2021, but the village yard will only open on request due to infection control. Contact us on tel .: (+47) 40611406. found here: https://www.daiddadallu.com/ blog.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Susanne's book, Mázejoavku. Indigenous Collectivity and Art, published by DAT and OCA, visit the following links: