Máret Ánne Sara

Maret Anne Sara (b. 1983) is a Northern Sami artist and author from Guovdageaidnu in the Norwegian part of Sapmi. Sara is a founding member of the Daiddadallu Artist Collective in Guovdageaidnu and is part of a new generation of Sami artists who work to maintain and improve the rights of the Sami communities. She is known for experimenting with varied materials, approaches and collective art actions, and her artistic practice makes visible the political and social issues affecting the Sami people, especially the reindeer herding communities, with a critical view on ongoing colonialism. Her sculptures and installations are often made from materials deriving from the sustainable practice of her reindeer herding family, treating the bones, hide and intestines of the reindeer in the customary manner and transforming them into contemporary artworks.

Sara is best known for the piece Pile o’Sápmi, an installation of 400 reindeer skulls and legal documents, showcased at documenta14 in Kassel, 2017. The installation was recently purchased by the National Museum, Norway. Pile o’Sápmi is also the title of an ongoing art project and protest movement involving fellow Sami artists in solidarity with Sara’s brother Jovsset Ante Sara, in his contestation of the Norwegian government in court.

The title of this project refers to Pile o’ Bones, the English translation of the Plains Cree name for Regina, Canada (Oskana ka-asastēki) and also referencing the photos of millions of buffalo heads that white settlers slaughtered in order to starve the Indigenous populations of North America.

Pile o’Sápmi has taken various forms, as installations with reindeer skulls, and as jewellery pieces made from reindeer bone porcelain (pointing to bone china, a British invention
imitating porcelain by using buffalo bones as raw material). As her brother’s court cases
proceeded, Sara installed various versions of Pile o’Sápmi in relation to the different trials, with installations outside the District Court in Deatnu/Tana, the Court of Appeal in Romsa/Tromso and in front of the Norwegian Parliament in Oslo during the trial at the Supreme Court. The various versions have also been exhibited at Tenthaus, Norway; The Queen Sonja Art Stable, Norway; Kunstnerforbundet, Norway and Nuuk Art Museum, Kalaallit Nunaat/Greenland.

Pile o’Sápmi Power Necklace was displayed in the exhibition ‘Let the River Flow. The Sovereign Will and the Making of a New Worldliness’, curated and produced by OCA in 2018. Sara is currently featured with a new commission and a series of previous works in the exhibition ‘Environmental Injustice – Indigenous Peoples’ Alternatives’ at Musee d’ethnographie de Geneve, Switzerland.

Since studying illustration at Arts University Bournemouth, UK, the artist also works extensively with collages and prints depicting madness and anger at governmental power abuse through the expressive use of Sami symbolic and identity markers.

Sara has also worked as journalist and editor of the Sami youth magazine Š, and has published two novels, Ilmmiid gaskkas (In between worlds), 2013, and Doaresbealde doali, 2014. She was nominated for the Nordic Council’s Children and Young People’s Literature Prize 2014 for Ilmmiid gaskkas, her debut novel, which was published in Northern Sami, Norwegian and English.

Pauliina Feodoroff (b. 1977) is a Skolt Sami theatre director, artist and nature guardian from Kevajau’rr in the Finnish part of Sapmi and Suo’nnjel, in the Russian part. She connects various fields of knowledge – Sami, artistic, scientific – in theatre and film projects and also in political activism and ecological restoration projects. She is known for the film Non Profit, 2007, and the play CO2lonialNATION that premiered at Giron Sami Teahter, 2017, which questioned colonisation and its consequences in Sapmi through a ‘ Truth Commission’.

She gained a Masters in theatre direction and dramaturgy from the Helsinki Theatre Academy in 2002 and has worked as the artistic director of Takomo Theatre and the Rospuutto Theatre Group, both in Helsinki, Finland. For the theatre festival Baltic Circle Helsinki in 2017 she curated the artistic and discursive programme ‘Vuosttaš albmogat / First Nations’ which concentrated on colonisation in the Nordic countries. Several Sami artists, including Anders Sunna, participated in the programme.

Feodoroff’s family are Skolt Sami reindeer herders originally from Suo’nnjel on the Kola
peninsula in the Russian part of Sapmi but were forced to move to the Finnish part when the Russian borders were re-drawn and closed in 1944. She was born in Kevajau’rr on the Finnish side but considers the dispossessed lands as her ancestral homeland.

Feodoroff is an advocate for Sami water and land rights and has served as President of the Saami Council. She co-drafted the mandate for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Finland in 2019. Her current work is concerned with industrial deforestation and its role in the collapse of the biodiversity of rivers and fishing customs. Her practice is also concerned with the role of modernisation and government policies in destroying the collective models of existence and care for the land that underpin Sami society. She has worked to preserve reindeer herding in forests on the Finnish side of Sapmi and has investigated the impact of land extraction by mining companies in the Russian part of Sapmi.

Feodoroff is an active collaborator with the Snowchange Cooperative, particularly on the project ‘Naatamo River Co-management Plan’, where she coordinates the ecological restoration and management project of the Njauddam (North Sami: Njavddam, Finnish: Naatamo, Norwegian: Neiden) river system, a vital river on the Norwegian and Finnish sides of the Skolt Sami areas. The project aims to use Sami land-care
practices and local and scientific knowledge to protect and restore the waters, fish spawning areas and the surrounding land of the river. In 2018 this inspired the cross-disciplinary project ‘What Form(s) Can an Atonement Take’. In 2019 the restoration of the river Vannikkeejokk and a small rapid called Kirakkakoski in lake Kaa’rekjau’rr was completed.

In 2015 she collaborated with Snowchange Cooperative on a performance in Sapmi entitled Life in the Cyclic World (Our Songs Have to Change) if We Wish to Change for the Rospuutto Group, which raised awareness of the Climate Change Risk Assessment Report and pushed for the publication of a scientific article written by Tero and Kaisu Mustinen called ‘Life in the Cyclic World’. The article provides witness statements by Indigenous peoples of the North about climate change and their interpretations of what climate change is. The CAFF Process commissioned the report, but would not publish it without editing, which the Indigenous communities involved disagreed on. With Feodoroff and Snowchange’s efforts, the report was published in 2016.

Feodoroff has contributed to several book projects including Queering Sápmi, a project by Sarah Lindquist and Elfrida Bergman that challenges gender norms and offers storytelling about the lives of queer Sami persons, and the Eastern Sámi Atlas by editors Tero Mustonen and Kaisu Mustonen, published by the Snowchange Cooperative, 2011.

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