Dr. Monica Grini - Sámi Art and the Poetics and Politics of Norwegian Art History

In Norsk kunsthistorie (1927), one of the first Norwegian Art History textbooks, a “statuette of a Lapp”, i.e., of a Sámi, is praised for its realism: its “sympathetic naturalness” makes it resemble an “ethnographic illustration.”

Image may contain: Font, Art, Drinkware, Monochrome, Visual arts.

Illustration from Yngvar Nielsen, Universitetets Lappiske Samlinger 1857-1911 (Christiania: Fabritius, 1911).

Unlike the other sculptures discussed in this book, the one representing a Sámi is the only one explicitly associated with the field of ethnography. Fast forward a hundred years, and the Sámi art of duodji is still primarily presented by museums of cultural history or by ethnographic museums, and not by art museums. How is the prevailing representation of Sámi art as ethnographic material related to the politics of nation building in the nineteenth and early twentieth century?

This lecture will address the representation of Sámi artefacts, practices, materialites, actors, and themes in Norwegian Art History. I will attempt to uncover some of the established disciplinary mechanisms and narratives. My method is historiography in combination with fieldwork in archives and museums, aimed at doing art historiography in the expanded field – to go beyond the traditional textual focus and incorporate visuality and materiality in the inquiry.

Monica Grini is Senior Lecturer in Media and Documentation Studies at UiT The Arctic University of Norway. She holds a PhD in Art History. Her research interests include historiography and museology, especially articulations and receptions of Sámi art.

She participates in several international research projects and research groups, like The Art of Nordic Colonialism: Writing Transcultural Art Histories, based at the University of Copenhagen, and Worlding Northern Art, based at UiT The Arctic University of Norway. Recent article: “Sámi (Re)Presentation in a Differentiating Museumscape. Revisiting the Art-Culture System.” Nordisk Museologi, 3/2019, pp. 169–185. Forthcoming book: Samisk kunst og norsk kunsthistorie. Delvise forbindelser, Stockholm University Press. 2021.

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Published Feb. 22, 2021 1:29 PM - Last modified Apr. 7, 2021 10:18 AM