3 December

Which were the standout exhibitions of 2020? Today's picks are by artist Synnøve Persen, based in Finnmark.

Máret Ánne Sara, Gielastuvvon/Snared, 2018. Photo: Alta Kunstforening.

The Sami Artists’ Union (SDS) anniversary exhibition 40 jagi, Alta Kunstforening, Alta

The Sami Artists’ Union’s anniversary exhibition 40 jagi (40 years) included a curated section featuring five artists. Out of these five, I want to highlight Máret Ánne Sara and her Gielastuvvon/Snared (2018). The work consists of lasso hoops and ropes with nooses mounted from the ceiling, evoking unpleasant associations. The installation can be seen to reflect a chokehold on a culture that can no longer defend itself. The title certainly suggests that this is the case. A strong and clear artistic voice, Máret Ánne Sara is a critic of the Norwegian authorities’ steps against reindeer husbandry, a world from which she herself comes. Attracting international attention with her participation in Documenta 14 in Kassel in 2017, she was chosen by Office for Contemporary Art Norway to represent the Sápmi Pavilion at the 2022 Venice Biennale.

Tomas Ferm, Vit ram (White Frame), 2019, charcoal and acrylics on mdf.

Tomas Ferm, Gallery PS, Gothenburg

The exhibition featuring painter Tomas Ferm at Gallery PS, a tiny gallery at street level in Gothenburg’s Haga district, presented distorted and entangled human bodies depicted in subdued, sparse, and sober colours. His paintings are a sensuous joy to behold, the kind that makes a fellow painter’s eyes and heart rejoice. Here, the rules of painting hold sway: colour next to colour, the rhythms of the lines, the spaces created – open or enclosed. You step out into the street again feeling happy and enriched by something for which there are no words, something which is simply present in the paintings you have just seen.

Nils-Aslak Valkeapää, Áillohaš (1943-2001), installationview, Henie-Onstad Kunstsenter. Photo: Øystein Thorvaldsen / Henie Onstad Kunstsenter.

Nils-Aslak Valkeapää, Áillohaš (1943–2001), Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Bærum

Áillohaš (1943–2001) is a magnificent retrospective showcasing the life’s work of the highly versatile Sámi artist Nils-Aslak Valkeapää. Extending across the entire venue, the exhibition contains everything from paintings, drawings and photographs, artists’ books, poetry, sound art and joik, to video and installation art. Visitors get to immerse themselves in a distinctive body of work and an artistic life rooted in a very different, yet geographically nearby, culture. The presentation will be an excellent point of entry for those who do not know Sámi culture very well. But it will also give Sámi visitors new insights about themselves, paving a way into their own culture through art.

Synnøve Persen is a visual artist and author living in Finnmark. In 2017, she contributed to Documenta 14 in Athens, and published her first bilingual book Ruoná rieggá vuol váccašit / Under grønn ring vandre  (Walking under the green ring, Aschehoug). In 2020, she celebrated her 70th birthday with a two-part anniversary exhibition: a retrospective in her native Porsanger Municpality and another featuring all-new works at the Sami Center for Contemporary Art in Karasjok. The exhibitions will tour northern Norway until 2022.

For this year’s contributions to Kunstkritikk’s Advent Calendar, see here.