Are we still here? Encounter with the Sami culture on Vesterålen.

Sortland Museum

Sortland • Vesterålen

This exhibition is a collaborative art project by Mari Boine, Helle Storvik, Rune Johansen and Åslaug Krokann Berg. It addresses questions about Sami identity in Vesterålen, but it also addresses the significance of belonging and the desire that everyone has to be accepted as the person they are.

The portrait photographs taken by Rune Johansen and Mari Boine show the normal lives of the people of Vesterålen wearing normal clothes. They are individuals in their own right, while some of them also have deep Sami roots.
These same people and many others from Vesterålen were interviewed by Åslaug Krokann Berg and Helle Storvik in a 50-minute film entitled “Are we still here?” as part of the exhibition.

Many questions are addressed in the exhibition. How do the people of Vesterålen see their Sami identity today? Where do we see the Sami culture and cultural identity when the characteristics are not obviously apparent? How can a Sami as an individual grow up in a community in which the Sami culture is invisible participate in Sami culture?
As Helle Storvik asks in another of her works: and what about me; am I not a part of it too?

Nature and landscape are important elements in this exhibition. We read titles like Wolf (Ulva), Spring Grass (Vårgress), Clouds (Skyer), the Fjord (Fjorden) and Reflections (Speiling) as witnesses of this. The experience with landscape might be the most specific connection we have to the lives of those who have lived before us. This is where the past, present and future meet, as it does for Åslaug Krokann Berg’s video installation Outside of Time (Utenfir tiden).

For those who lived before us, the landscape was more than something to experience; it was the foundation for all life.

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