Together with Sámiráđđi (the Saami Council) and the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (the OCA), KORO – Public Art Norway announces an open competition to design a Sámi artwork for a public space in Oslo. The competition is a part of the collaborative project Art, colonialism, belonging – a time for truth and reconciliation?
The Saami Council/Sámiráđđi, the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA) and KORO have come together to develop a project that will explore the extent to which the model underlying the Truth and Reconciliation Commission can be used as a tool to respond to the Sámi people’s experience of colonialism. How can a truth and reconciliation process contribute to healing the wounds that colonialism inflicted on the Sámi people and their unbreakable bonds with their territory and spiritual beliefs? And how can such a process bring the Sámi people and the Norwegian population closer together?
The collaborative project, titled Art, colonialism, belonging – a time for truth and reconciliation? will examine the impact that historic and current colonialist activities — now to a high degree normalized in Norwegian society — have had on the Sámi people, and investigate how a Truth and Reconciliation Commission can succeed in rectifying this impact. The project asks how art can focus attention on two questions. First, to what extent does contemporary Norwegian society acknowledge the inter-connected experiences of ecocide and the destruction of indigenous knowledge systems that have been, and continue to be, a direct consequence of the State’s colonial policies and infrastructure? Second, to what extent is the Norwegian population prepared to involve itself, along with the Sámi population, in realizing the ambitions contained in positive concepts such as ‘truth’ and ‘reconciliation’?
This collaborative project will consist of two parts – an Open Call for a public art commission at a site in Oslo; and the nationwide Digital Dialogues. Read more about the digital dialogue at the bottom of this story.
The project is independent of, but responds to the Norwegian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was established in 2018 and will complete its work in 2022. The project will also reflect on the successes and failures of a similar process conducted in Turtle Island, Canada in 2015.
About the commission
Art, colonialism, belonging — a time for truth and reconciliation? invites Sámi artists to develop a permanent or temporary public art project for a site in Oslo. The project should reflect critically and aesthetically on the above questions. Artists are free to decide on the format and process of their proposed projects.
Artists must take Oslo’s historical and political context into account when developing their projects. It was in Oslo that the ground-breaking Sámi hunger strikers set up camp in connection with the Alta Conflict in 1978–1981 and encountered overwhelming support. At the same time, there are barely any traces of this historic event in Oslo, nor any official monuments to mark the contribution of the Sámi people to Norwegian society, despite the fact that Oslo has a significant number of Sámi residents. Any Sámi artist living in Sápmi can respond to the Open Call. The jury has a particular interest in projects that attach importance to and preserve Sámi methodologies and Sámi perspectives, as well as reflecting on the role of a public monument today.
Open Call procedure
KORO will project manage the installation of a Sámi public artwork at a site in Oslo. From the Open Call, the jury will select five artists who will be invited to compete for the commission. The jury will then select a winner. The winner of the competition will be announced on 15 January 2022.
The artwork/monument must be completed by June 2023.
The jury will consist of representatives from the Saami Council, SDS-Sámi Dáiddačehpiid Searvi (the Sámi Artists’ Union), KORO, and the OCA.
Your application must include
- a short text describing why you are interested in this commission;
- a portfolio of photographs or sketches of relevant artworks and related material; and
- your CV.
The application deadline is 1pm (Central European Summer Time) on 15 September 2021.
There is no fee for participating in the Open Call.
Send your application via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- On 30 September 2021, the jury will announce the names of the five finalists. The finalists will be invited to participate in a competition to create a Sámi artwork/monument for a public space in Oslo.
- Each competition entry will consist of a sketch of the temporary or permanent work(s) to be installed. The jury does not impose any limitations on the intended lifetime of the work(s).
- Each participating artist will receive a fee of NOK 35,000-.
- The deadline for submitting competition entries is 15 December 2021.
- The winner of the competition will be announced on 15 January 2022.
- The artist who is invited to complete the commission will be informed of the overall budget. The artist will be free to determine how to allocate this amount between their own fee and the costs of producing the project envisaged in their proposal.
- The work must be completed by June 2023.
Please address questions about the application process or the commission to:
- Trude Schjelderup Iversen, senior curator, KORO email@example.com
- Katya García-Antón, director and chief curator at the OCA
- Christina Hætta, head of the Saami Council’s Cultural Unit firstname.lastname@example.org
Represented on the jury
In addition to representatives from KORO, the following institutions will be represented on the jury:
The Saami Council: A pan-Sámi non-governmental organization, with political and cultural Sámi member organizations in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Since the Council was founded in 1956, it has dealt actively with Sámi policy and is one of the oldest indigenous peoples’ organizations in continuous existence. The primary aim of the Saami Council is to protect Sámi rights and interests in the four countries traditionally inhabited by the Sámi people. The primary task of the Saami Council is to promote a sense of solidarity among the Sámi people, to gain recognition of the Sámi as a nation, and to maintain the cultural, political, economic and social rights of the Saami under the laws of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia and Finland.
SDS-Sámi Dáiddačehpiid Searvi (the Sámi Artists’ Union): SDS was founded in 1979 as a professional organization for Sámi artists, craftspersons and artist photographers from all parts of the Sámi territory. The SDS aims to protect its members’ professional, economic, social and intellectual property rights. Between annual meetings, the executive organs are the Steering Committee and the Artistic Council. The Steering Committee is responsible for ensuring compliance with resolutions passed and intentions adopted at the annual meetings, while the Artistic Council is responsible for artistic matters. The SDS is a member of the Sámi Artists Council, the umbrella organization for Sámi artists’ associations, which has links to both the Nordic and European Councils of Artists. The SDS recommends consultants to advise the Sámi Cultural Council’s Acquisitions Committee for Sámi Contemporary Art and Crafts.
Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA): A non-profit foundation established by the Norwegian Ministries of Culture and of Foreign Affairs in 2001. The foundation’s principal aims are to facilitate dialogue between practising artists in Norway, including Sápmi, and the international arts scene, and to support artists based in Norway in their activities around the world. The OCA’s programme of exhibitions, publications, artist residencies, visits and discursive activities is focused on bringing impulses from current international artistic debates to Norway and participating actively in such debates nationally and internationally. The OCA has been responsible for curating Norway’s contributions to the Venice Biennale since 2001.
In addition to the Open Call, the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA) and the Saami Council invite Norwegian and Sámi artists of all ages to hold a series of Digital Dialogues all over Norway. The artists will be invited to reflect on the opportunities and challenges relating to the ongoing work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Questions about the Digital Dialogues should be directed to: