Our book was presented at the Greenland+Denmark 300 conference

Keynote about emotional ties in the North Atlantic region at the Royal Academy of Science and Letters

On the 300 year anniversary of Hans Egede’s arrival in Greenland Aalborg University hosted a three-day conference in Copenhagen about the intertwined histories of the two countries.

Minister of Higher Education and Science, Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen gave a short address at the Royal Academy.

In our keynote address we presented some of the key contributions of our book Denmark and the New North Atlantic. To us it is essentail that the relationship between the center of the former Danish empire and its subordinates have rested on varying degrees of asymmetric power relations that are intertwined with political as well as emotional bonds. Insight into the affective aspects of the power dynamics and discourses of empire is necessary for understanding the history of the region as well as the complex present relations between the countries. Investigating these, we have not been able to avoid addressing tender points, such as mutual stereotyping that reflects racialized discourses of the past. This is in contrast to the dominating political rhetoric in the North Atlantic countries, where the ‘good neighbors’ metaphor prevails. It is our conviction, however, that only by addressing these darker sides of the cultural heritage can we put an end to them “working through concealment”, as Sara Ahmed puts it (2004).

 


Assistant Professor Rosannguaq Rossen from the University of Greenland gave a paper on the West Greenlandic women’s costume and Greenlandic fashion, which she also wrote about for the book.

PhD Andreas Otte presented an introduction to Greenlandic popular music in the overlapping fields of global pop culture and movements within indigenous cultural revivals

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New book out, diving to the bottom of the iceberg

Denmark and the New North Atlantic. Narratives and Memories in a Former Empire (eds. Kirsten Thisted and Ann-Sofie N. Gremaud) has been published as a two volume work this fall.

The book investigates how the emergence of the Arctic as a new geopolitical arena affects and reshapes the area known as the North Atlantic: Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and coastal Norway. With climate change a whole new reality is emerging in the Arctic and sub-Arctic areas. Power is moving north, and new connections and partnerships are being developed. The North Atlantic countries share a history as being part of a Danish empire, and some of the hierarchies and mindsets inherited from the past still affect the present. This has been our point of departure for seeking an in-depth understanding of the cultural history of the North Atlantic. What narratives make up the foundation for contemporary cooperation? How are historical relations and narratives being reinterpreted today? How do postcolonial relations affect decision-making concerning natural resources? How do North Atlantic communities envision the future?

Our working metaphor has been that of the iceberg where only a small percentage is visible and the rest is hidden below the surface.

We have co-written the sections of the book as a team of historians, literary theorists, art historians, ethnographers and culture and communication scholars from universities in Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Denmark and Norway.

COLONIALISM IS A SYSTEM AND A WAY OF THINKING THAT PROPAGATES DOWNWARDS. IT MADE DANES FEEL SUPERIOR TO THE PEOPLES IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC, PARTICULARLY TO THE GREENLANDERS. HOWEVER, IT ALSO MADE SOME ICELANDERS – AND SOME FAROESE – FEEL ENTITLED TO COLONIZE GREENLANDERS AND GREENLANDIC LAND; IT MADE SOME WEST GREENLANDERS FEEL SUPERIOR TO EAST GREENLANDERS; AND SO FORTH. RECONCILING THE PAST, AS A WAY TO MOVE FORWARD AND PLACE THESE THINGS SECURELY IN THE PAST, WILL MEAN BRINGING THESE HIGHLY UNPLEASANT REALIZATIONS OUT INTO THE OPEN.

Section 7, Vol II, Sovereignty, Constitutions and Natural Resources

On September 13 the book was presented at Nordatlantens Brygge in Copenhagen where those of the authors who were able to travel discussed the goal and main themes of the book.

Exploring a vividly illustrated set of aspirations and setbacks through a veritable kaleidoscope of politics, ideology, art, literature, ecology, gender, sexuality, and affect writ large on international screens, the authors offer a challenging and critical view of the North Atlantic as a region of infinite and newly assertive cultural possibility.

Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University, author of Cultural Intimacy

New Joint Project from September: Transcultural and Colonial Art History

The research network The Art of Nordic Colonialism: Writing Transcultural Art Histories brings together researchers working with art archives and materials primarily related to Danish-Norwegian colonial projects in the Caribbean, India, West Africa, Greenland, Iceland and Sápmi, and Swedish colonial projects in the Caribbean, West Africa and Sápmi from the 17th century and onwards. In dialogue with theoretical discussions in fields such as global art history, decolonial studies, postcolonial studies, and indigenous studies, the project seeks to develop new conceptual and methodological approaches to the writing of transcultural art histories, attentive to processes of cultural syncretism, aesthetic exchange and cultural amalgamation. The research project not only seeks to foster new research, it also seeks to act as an agent of capacity building in the museum sector by stimulating the development of new curatorial and communicative strategies for working with transcultural perspectives and colonial histories.

The project’s contention is that the political investment in narratives of national and cultural homogeneity in the Nordic region have overshadowed the traditions of transcultural exchange, influence, and conflict engrained in histories of colonial encounters. The colonial inflection of the definition of art has also framed aesthetic practices by the colonized as ‘ethnographica’ to be studied by anthropologist not art historians.

 

The affiliated scholars are:

  • Anna Vestergaard Jørgensen, PhD Fellow, UniCPH
  • David Winfield Norman, PhD Fellow, UniCPH
  • Mathias Danbolt (PI), Associate Professor

 

  • Nivi Katrine Christensen, Director, Nuuk Art Museum
  • Gunvor Guttorm, Professor, Sámi University of Applied Science
  • Monica Grini, Assistant Professor, University of Tromsø – Arctic University
  • Ann-Sofie Nielsen Gremaud, Assistant Professor, University of Iceland, Reykjavik
  • Temi Odumosu, Senior Lecturer, Malmö University, Sweden
  • Åsa Bharathi Larsson, Assistant Professor, University of Uppsala
  • Dorthe Aagesen, Senior Curator, SMK – National Gallery of Denmark
  • Randi Godø, Curator, National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Norway
  • Lill-Ann Körber, Professor, Aarhus University, Denmark
  • Mette Kia Krabbe Meyer, Senior Research Fellow, Royal Danish Library, Copenhagen

The project is supported by the Carlsberg Foundation

Open seminar May 10th about Greenlandic and Icelandic relations

 

seminar event

In 1925 a historical encounter between Greenlanders and Icelanders took place, when around 90 Greenlanders visited the Icelandic Westfjords and stayed for a few days on their way to the settlement Ittoqqortoormiit (Scoresbysund) in north-eastern Greenland. This year the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute is showing an exhibition with photographs from the encounter and on May 10th an open seminar will be held in Veröld Vigdísar (Reykjavík) with speakers from Iceland, Denmark and Greenland, who address different aspects linked to the encounter, its links with Danish colonialism and the memories of it.

Today the relationship between the West Nordic neighbors Iceland and Greenland is high on the agenda in both countries and the diplomatic, cultural and political ties are getting stronger than ever. This is, however, a very recent development and many Icelanders and Greenlanders have begun ask themselves why such close neighbors know so relatively little about each other and have had limited contact. Speakers from Iceland, Greenland and Denmark are getting together in Reykjavík in May to shed light on the three countries’ shared history and the memories and future perspectives that help us understand aspects of the nature of the neighborship. The speakers will also discuss political and cultural dimensions in today’s relations between Greenland and Iceland and between Greenland and Denmark – and especially how cultural differences and the political history affect the lives of citizens who participate in cross-cultural entrepreneurship and collaborations.

All are welcome and admission is free.

 

Colonial memories in the Atlantic Area discussed

At this year’s Science Festival of the Humanities (University of Iceland), three colleagues and I contributed with a session about colonial memory narratives.

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The age of colonialism and imperialism, which has had a profound influence on the Atlantic area formally belongs to history, but its cultural heritage survives in the form of language policies, ideas about national identity, historical narratives and racism. The aim of our seminar at this year’s Hugvísindathing was to explore the relationship of visual and performing arts with present-day representations of history in the post-colonial era. Which role did artworks play in the formation of colonial logic in previous centuries and how does modern art use colonial archives today? In order to get an insight into aspects of the colonial past of the Atlantic area, the seminar provided lectures on the afterlife of both French and Danish colonial history as it has been mediated through artworks by Ólöf Nordal, Julie Edel Hardenberg, Inuk Silis-Høegh, Molière, Ósk Vilhjálmsdóttir and others.

Artist Ólöf Nordal, art historian Æsa Sigurjónsdóttir, literary scholar Toby E. Wickström,  and I discussed examples that show commonalities and differences in how colonial memory is processed in art from the former French and Danish empires.

We thank all guests for participating in the discussion and look forward to keeping up the dialogue between the art scene and academia.

Emotions and Climate change – call for papers

The discourses about the consequences of industrialization for the climate and the planet in general have left us facing profound questions about our future as a species. Is climate change our doing? Will we be able to turn the development around to avoid massive catastrophes and conflicts? How long will we be here? Should we be here at all? News reports of floods, hurricanes, fires, and droughts spur discourses that are highly emotional and charged with feelings such as fear, nostalgia, guilt, and sadness.

In the fall of 2019 I will edit a special issue of the peer reviewed online journal ArtsThis Special Issue focuses on the way emotional aspects of climate change and the role of humans in this context have been represented in the visual culture in the 20th and 21st centuries. The theories about the time we live in, termed the “Anthropocene”, the “capitalocene”, or the “chthulucene”, have all posed questions about the future of mankind and our position in relation to the rest of planet Earth. Climate change discourses have positioned humans as both victims and perpetrators and have ignited a complex emotional field that is explored and interpreted from numerous angles within the visual culture. Theorists from various fields—such as Ian Hodder (2012), Bruno Latour (2017), and Jane Bennett (2010)—have argued that we need to approach our current situation by looking at it as a complex network and a combination of processes of interdependence—of entanglement between things, animals, other biological beings, biospheres, and economic frameworks of inequality. The question of what a human is and can be is increasingly being explored through non-anthropocentric optics, and simpler notions of subject–object relationality are often rejected in the theory and in the field of visual culture. Hodder has stated that it may be our fundamental entanglement with things and technologies that makes it so difficult to deal with climate change (2012). However, human representations of our place in the world is still an important optic through which we can seek to understand how we make sense of our relations, limitations, and options. The languages of the aesthetic fields of photography, comics, movies, and other visual media leave room for ambivalence and complexities—as well as for the unspeakable—elements that are important aspects of the way we experience our (new) relationship with our surroundings.

 

Please consult the website of the CFP for further information. The deadline for proposed articles is August 23 2019.

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Our book on the role of climate change and nature in Nordic art is out.

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Artistic Visions of the Anthropocene North: Climate Change and Nature in Art – edited by Gry Hedin and myself – has just been published as a part of the Routledge series Advances in Art and Visual Studies.

The articles featured in this book span centuries of art history and changing theories of the Humanities and the natural sciences. The media used by the artists discussed here are also diverse and include music videos, oil paintings, photography, maps and field notes. They are all concerned with questions of how humans and environment are connected – how such connections are experienced and how they can be understood.

 

“In 1828, Danish painters were encouraged to attend lectures in geology. Week after week, they were seated in front of Danish geologist Georg Forchhammer as they lis- tened to him lecture on mineral chemistry. We do not know exactly what they were told, but Forchhammer was the rst to write a geohistory of Denmark, and he also wrote on the chemical composition of paint. Thus, it is an alluring possibility that the artists were lectured on both the geohistory of their country and the components of their paints – and what an odd combination!

One wonders how they combined the two subjects in their imagination. When they were told how to paint with materials from nature in the most enduring way, did they envision themselves working in the tradition of ancient artists, inscribing messages for posterity the way we humans in the Anthropocene collectively inscribe messages upon our planet for our remote descendants to come across one day? Or did they see themselves as small-scale scientists listening to good advice from one colleague to another on how to grind chunks of the famously-old chalk cliffs of Møn into primers for their canvases?

In either case, painters’ awareness of geology can enrich artworks with meaning, and both artists and geologists work with materiality as well as visions. In the era of the Anthropocene, this takes on a particular meaning.” (from the introduction)

Abstracts can be viewed at the taylorfrancis website.

The volume falls into three thematic sections:

I) In the first section Interaction between Art and Science Gry Hedin and Eva La Cour look at the ways both 19th century Danish art and contemporary video art is in a dialogue with methods from the natural sciences.

II) In the second section Changing Narratives of the Anthropocene and the North Mark A. Cheetham and Norman Vorano present indigenous and non-indigenous interpretations of Canadian landscapes – and in Cheetham’s case also the concept of “North”.

III) In the book’s third section Media and Blurred Boundaries between Nature and the Human Katarina Wadstein MacLeod, Synnøve Vil and I deal with contemporary art that points at mediation itself as a means to questions the way humans interact with the environment (including other bodies).

In the era of the Anthropocene, artists and scientists are facing a new paradigm in their attempts to represent nature. Seven chapters, which focus on art from 1780 to the present that engages with Nordic landscapes, argue that a number of artists in this period work in the intersection between art, science, and media technologies to examine the human impact on these landscapes and question the blurred boundaries between nature and the human. Canadian artists such as Lawren Harris and Geronimo Inutiq are considered alongside artists from Scandinavia and Iceland such as J.C. Dahl, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Toril Johannessen, and Björk.

Here you can have a sneak peak at the content of the volume:

Introduction: Artistic Visions of the Anthropocene North: Climate Change and Nature in Art, GRY HEDIN & ANN-SOFIE N. GREMAUD

PART I: Interaction between Art and Science

1 Anthropocene Beginnings: Entanglements of Art and Science in Danish Art and Archaeology 1780– 1840, GRY HEDIN

2 A Montage of Notes from Svalbard: Mediating the Arctic through Artistic Research, EVA LA COUR

PART II: Changing Narratives of the Anthropocene and the North

3 Northern Landscape and the Anthropocene: A Long View, MARK A. CHEETHAM

4 “We All Have to Live By What We Know”: Activating Memoryscapes in the North Baffin Inuit Drawing Collection to Understand Arctic Environmental Change, NORMAN VORANO

PART III: Media and Blurred Boundaries between Nature and the Human

5 Conversations between Body, Tree and Camera in the work of Eija-Liisa Ahtila, KATARINA WADSTEIN MACLEOD

6 Toril Johannessen’s In Search of Iceland Spar: Truth and Illusion in the Anthropocene , SYNNØVE MARIE VIK

7 From within the Porous Body: Modes of Engagement in Björk’s Biophilia Album, ANN-SOFIE N. GREMAUD

 

The volume can be ordered through the Routledge website.

Podcasts: videnskabsformidling

 

 

Nyt år – nye historier.

Det Humanistiske Fakultet … et verdensfjernt sted med høje mure til at holde resten af samfundet på afstand eller et elfenbenstårn fyldt med forskere, som er berygtede for at have svært ved at kommunikere, så andre kan forstå dem? Forestillinger om forskningsprojekter og uddannelser, som i bedste fald er elitære og i værste fald er ubrugelige, har gentagende gange ført til budgetnedskæringer og gjort fremtiden mere usikker for studerende og ansatte.

Men hvad er det, de kæmper for at bevare? Hvilken slags viden er det de producerer og hvad er det for nogle historier, de kan fortælle om den måde vi oplever verden og vores historie? Hvordan bidrager deres arbejde til samfundet og hvordan de ser de på fremtiden? Det er nogle af de spørgsmål Historier fra Humaniora stiller.

 

I podcastserien Historier fra Humaniora jeg taler med en række forskere fra Det Humanistiske Fakultet på Københavns Universitet om deres forskning og de spørgsmål, de søger svar på.

(udsendelserne findes også på Soundcloud)

PODCASTS

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Podcast: Familiealbum

Den måde vi bruger fotografiet og deler fotografier af vores familie på, har forandret sig drastisk de seneste årtier. Så hvad sker der med det klassiske familiealbum, som de fleste af os har haft stående i vores hjem i generationer, og som mange ville redde som det første hvis huset brændte? Hvad kan familiealbummet fortælle noget om som medieformat og som “objekt” og har det overhovedet en fremtid? Professor i fotografistudier og institutleder ved Institut for Kunst og Kulturvidenskab Mette Sandbye fortæller om det at have familiealbummet som forskningsobjekt.

 

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Podcast: I affekt 

Følelserne klistrer og måske giver det ikke mening at tale om følelser og politik som noget der kan eller bør holdes adskilt. På humaniora er det blevet gængs at undersøge følelser som noget, som slet ikke kommer indefra, men derimod som noget der skabes i sproget, cirkulerer imellem os og er tæt knyttet til magt. Hvad siger litterat og kulturforsker Mons Bissenbakker Frederiksen fra Institut for Nordiske Studier og Sprogvidenskab til det, når jeg beder ham fortælle om affektteori? Her kommer vi Pippi Langstrømpe, Krudttønden og indvandringspolitik.

 

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Podcast: Grønland mellem fortid og fremtid

Var Grønland en dansk koloni? Er forholdet stadig kolonialt? Eller postkolonialt? Og hvilken forskel gør det? Spørgsmålene om Grønlands fortid, nutid og mulige fremtid som en del af det danske kongerige præger ikke kun politiske og videnskabelige debatter, de giver også genlyd i kunsten og litteraturen. Men hvordan kan perspektiverne fra Minoritetsstudier og sprogvidenskab bidrage til at gøre os klogere? Litterat og kulturforsker Kirsten Thisted fra Institut for Tværkulturelle og Regionale Studier har i årtier undersøgt hvordan kunsten kan gøre os klogere på dybderne i den komplekse relation.

 

 

København er en by i Nordatlanten

NA kort

(Fra Inuk Silis-Høegh Danmarkskortet, 2004)

Golden Days 2017 forvandler igen i år København til et fantastisk virvar af arrangementer, som denne gang har det overordnede tema: København. Det tema åbner en række helt umiddelbare spørgsmål: hvad, hvem og hvor er København?

Som de fleste ved ligger København i Danmark på Sjælland – men mange af os ved også at København findes på mindre åbentlyse steder som i musikken, i litteraturen og selv i de københavnere, som ikke længere bor i byen. I forbindelse med årets Golden Days vil jeg, sammen med Nordatlantens Brygge, gerne invitere til en samtale om hvordan København også er blevet en by i Nordatlanten. Byen har i århundreder været centrum for administration, handel og uddannelse og derfor også et vigtigt sted i mange islændinge, grønlændere og færingers liv.

Nordatlanten er en del af København og København er en by i Nordatlanten. De to litteratur- og kulturhistorikere Kirsten Thisted og Bergur Rønne Moberg samt filmskaberen Otto Rosing fortæller om forbindelserne før og nu og den kunst som behandler dem ved arrangementet på Nordatlantens Brygge d. 16 september kl 15.

brygge

 

Arrangementet er et baseret på forskningsprojektet Denmark and the New North Atlantic.

Ólöf Nordal and the Archives: the agency of a house and embodiment of research

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A number of North Atlantic artists have dealt with the narrative and structuring work that archives do. One of the best known examples is that of Danish-Greenlandic artist Pia Arke who has inspired and challenged viewers and scholars with her sophisticated and deeply engaged investigations of power, emotion, bodies, history and identity in the personal and official archives.

 

More recently Icelandic artist Ólöf Nordal has opened similar questions in her dealing with archives reflecting the fascination of anthropometrics, ethnographic theories and racial classification in the work Musée Islandique. Plaster casts of body parts, meticulous measurements and hair samples are photographed and shown together with film clips that give the audience an insight into the long and persistent fascination with “the Nordic people” with cases from the 1850s to the second half of the 20th century.

Ólöf Nordal: Museé Islandique

 

The ideas reflected in these historic cases also offer questions for our own time: what are the inherent narratives of current ideas such as “Nordic exceptionalism”, genetic research, the persistent notions of “race”, self-exoticizing branding campaigns etc.

Furthermore, Nordal’s photographs of Icelandic Anthropologist Dr. Jens Pálsson’s collection of hair, fingerprints, skull measurements etc., also point to the ever-changing and political nature of scientific methodology and theory.

November-January 2015 the exhibition was shown at the old imperial warehouse in Copenhagen – currently the North Atlantic culture house: Bryggen seminar and exhibition. In collaboration with the culture house I organized a seminar with invited speakers from Denmark and Iceland. Among the speakers were two Icelandic researchers: Gisli Pálsson and Æsa Sigurjónsdóttir, who have worked with and written about Ólöf Nordal’s exhibition when it was shown in Iceland. Pálsson, who is an anthropologist himself, talked about the racial theories that the anthropometric survey projects have been based on. Sigurjónsdóttir addressed the potential of the artistic approaches used by Nordal in her investigation.

 

Inevitably the old warehouse itself became a participant in the reflections on the relational aspects of collective identity, the embodied experience of being the object (subject) of ethnographic research, emotions that stick to the processes of minoritization and majoritization and to the questions of who write, narrate and organize history? The house continues to be an agent in the continued negotions of identities in the former Danish commonwealth. These questions are dealt with from a number of angles and within various scholarly fields in the joint research project Denmark and the New North Atlantic.