Stories of Making: Across the Ocean, over the Mountain

Collaborative project on Indigenous knowledge and craft practice with an online programme in November 2020

Norwegian Crafts has been redefining our understanding of (contemporary) craft and the way in which our organisation honours Indigenous making practices and underrepresented voices in the craft field for the past three years. Through our guest residency program, Curator in Residence, we have invited curator Namita Wiggers from Warren Wilson College (2017), artist and architect Joar Nango (2019) to guide us in this work. As a direct result, over the past two years we have focused on Sápmi in order to strengthen our knowledge of duodji and Sámi culture. This work is continuing through our collaboration with our current guest curator Zoe Black, community development curator at Objectspace, Aotearoa New Zealand. Together Zoe Black, Objectspace and Norwegian Crafts are undertaking a collaborative project, titled Stories of Making: Across the Ocean, over the Mountain, aimed at creating opportunities for Indigenous practitioners and continuing the dialogue in the craft field between Sápmi and Norway, Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond. The project will explore how living cultural practices are unique to place and people yet offer common ground to come together.

As part of this work, Norwegian Crafts has developed two key intentions that will guide this project and future activities. These commitments outline what we aim to achieve and how we will continue to work as an organisation.

 Norwegian Crafts is committed to facilitate areas for exchange between Sámi, Norwegian and international practitioners in the craft field.

 Norwegian Crafts is committed to support activities, practitioners and institutions to ensure understanding and recognition of duodji continues to deepen.

Stories of Making: Across the Ocean, over the Mountain will start by sharing strategies relating to the value, the transmission and representation of Indigenous knowledge. Through these conversations we will look at how crafts institutions can be configured or re-configured to engage in dialogue with an extended craft making concept. There are few arenas that create exchanges between Sámi, Norwegian and international practitioners in the field of crafts, and here Norwegian Crafts wants to catalyse more opportunities for collaboration with Sámi institutions and artists.

Online programme

A central part of the collaborative project is an online seminar programme taking place in November 2020. Two key lectures will be launched online at the beginning of November: one about the publication Crafting Aotearoa: A Cultural History of Making in New Zealand and the Wider Moana Oceania edited by Karl Chitham, Kolokesa U Māhina-Tuai and Damian Skinner, and the other focusing on the Arctic Indigenous Design Archive (AIDA) - a cross-border collaboration between Ájtte museum, Sámi arkiiva and Sámi Allaskuvla. Conversations, issues and points of interest from these presentations will inform three online panel discussions with invited guests that will take place in late November. The digital presentations and panel discussions will be shared through our own digital websites and other online channels. Centering projects from Sápmi (Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia) and Aotearoa, the online programme will consider how storytelling, making practices, and aural traditions strengthen cultural perspectives and how the exchange of ideas and global strategies can support new ways of valuing Indigenous knowledge. The discussions will consider examples of how research has been conducted and how institutions engage and disseminate Indigenous perspectives. 

Stories of Making aims to share knowledge within the craft field about Indigenous making practices. It will demonstrate how a diversity of leadership can be preserved and disseminated in an expanded understanding of the concept of craft. The seminar programme is aimed at artists and makers, duojárat, curators, art historians, directors, gallerists, education and other professionals in the craft field nationally and internationally in addition to other groups that will have a professional interest in the content of the programme. The project is initiated by Norwegian Crafts and produced by Zoe Black (Objectspace) and duojár Anna C. Sjursen.

Information about the online panel discussions (Zoom Sessions) can be found here.

Reference group

In order to ensure that Sámi perspectives are central to the project, a reference group has been established to guide the project managers with robust consultation in the form of advice and input both with regards to partners and content. The reference group consists of artist and architect Joar Nango; PhD candidate at University of Oslo, archaeologist, museologist and duojár Liisá-Rávna Finbog; associate professor in art history at University of Copenhagen Mathias Danbolt; community development curator at Objecspace Zoe Black.