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The Cambridge City Seminar Series: Infrastructures of Memory: Memories in the Skolt Sámi Area of the Arctic: Notes from a Visiting Artist

When Mar 05, 2019
from 05:30 PM to 07:00 PM
Where Boardroom, Department of Architecture
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This talk focuses on an artistic engagement with memories of home, roots and culture in the three Skolt Sámi villages of Čeʼvetjäuʼrr (Sevettijärvi), Keväjäuʼrr (Keväjärvi) and Njeäʼllem (Nellim) in Sápmi, northern Finland. The issues of colonisation, land rights and representation are as relevant today as they have ever been at a time when the United Nations openly criticised the Finnish Supreme Court for disrespecting the autonomy of the Sámi Parliament. 

The talk opens with a historical contextualisation of the relationship between life in the Skolt Sámi villages and the Finnish state. It then moves to talk through my experience of collaborative art practice as a visitor to the area. The project I developed with local people deals with oral histories through personal or passed on stories and Skolt Sámi traditional music/ memory leu'dd. The aim of the installation is to place recorded voices in proximity with a museum setting so that different temporalities of memory are brought together. 

The process of working on the installation raised questions of the conditions of remembering: How can one stay sensitive to what Helga West calls research fatigue? How to work in a place where so many ethnographers, linguists and other researchers have come before? How can one genuinely collaborate and explore the issues as a visitor? What can be gained in terms of representing memories by placing contemporary voices in proximity to a museum? 

About Tuuli and the Skolt Sámi Cultural Foundation:

Tuuli Malla is a performance and installation artist whose academic background is in Urban Studies (BSc, UCL Bartlett) and Performance Making (MA, Goldsmiths). Tuuli's work focuses on the themes of place and dialogue, often combining live performance with recorded sound, video or photography. Much of her work is made in collaboration with people and places. In addition to performing and exhibiting internationally Tuuli has published work in academic journals and taught at the Helsinki University Summer School. In addition to working on Root Echo installation, Tuuli's current interests are the phenomenological experiences of climate responsibility. She is exploring land based travel (also on the way from Helsinki to Cambridge) and water based living with the evolutionary art collective Water Bodies.

The Skolt Sámi Cultural Foundation was founded in 2008 to nurture and protect the vitality of Skolt Sámi culture and language. The foundation ensures continual development of culture and preservation of the language long into the future. With all of its operations, such as annual culture events and training courses, the foundation aims at maintaining the vitality of the Skolt Sámi communities in Sevettijärvi, Nellim and Keväjärvi regions.  

About the City Seminar: 

The City Seminar Series this year, co-hosted by the Department of Geography and the Department of Architecture, will convene around the theme ‘Infrastructures of Memory’. The intention of this series is to explore a variety of techniques, technologies, rituals, performances and materialities of memory and remembrance, and how they may reinforce or subvert prevailing power relations. 

More information, including the full term card can be found attached and on the City Seminar Facebook Page.