Films highlights

Arctic Highways Opening Performance, Film Screening & Panel UaaJeerneq – the Greenlandic Mask Dance & Historjá – Stitches For Sápmi

Elisabeth Heilmann Blind - photos courtesy of Hans Olof Utsi; Lars-Henrik Blind - photos courtesy of Akvafjell; Historja - photo courtesy of Jonas Rudström  

SAT—April 15—1-5 PM
$10 ($5 ASF Members)

On April 15 in celebration of the opening of Arctic Highways — Unbounded Indigenous People, join us for a special performance and film event! At 1 PM, Greenlandic dancer Elisabeth Heilmann Blind performs”UaaJeerneq – the Greenlandic Mask Dance,” the oldest dramatic expression among the Inuits in Greenland. At 2 PM following a brief intermission, we will hold a screening of the film Historjá – Stitches For Sápmi (dir. Thomas Jackson, Sweden, 2022), depicting artist Britta Marakatt-Labba’s battle for her culture against the threats of climate change.The film will be followed by a music performance by Sámi Yoiker Lars-Henrik Blind; and at 3:30 PM, the event will conclude with a panel discussion with Britta Marakatt-Labba, Thomas Jackson, and Elisabeth Heilmann Blind.

‘Uaajeerneq’ – the Greenlandic Mask Dance has been approximately alive for around 3,000 to 4,000 years. In the beginning, the Mask Dance was mainly used for fertility rituals, but as time passed it merged with shamanic seances and was welcomed as a relief from the dark winter months. The Mask Dance contains three dimensions and three elements: the dancer eliminates the self as much as possible by changing and deforming their face and body (with make-up, stick and string) to reach the spirit level, where the borders between human being and animal, female and male evaporate. The performance is divided into two parts, beginning before the audience where Heilmann Blind transforms herself into a Mask Dancer while telling the history of the tradition.

Artist Britta Marakatt-Labba has for decades depicted the indigenous Samí people’s mythology, relation to nature and political struggle, as in her piece Historjá, a 24-meter-long embroidery depicting motifs from Sami history. With small stitches, Marakatt-Labba evokes the history and mythology of the Sami people, as well as stories of colonialism, state-supported racism and political strife. After decades of protesting her people’s rights through art, she is now facing another struggle: the fight against climate change. After generations of family reindeer-herding, will her son be able to carry on the family tradition? “Nature truly comes alive in this stunningly beautiful story about the Sámi worldview and mythology” (Business Doc Europe); Watch trailer.

After the film, Sámi Yoiker Lars-Henrik Blind will perform. Britta Marakatt-Labba, Thomas Jackson, and Elisabeth Heilmann Blind will then hold a panel discussion moderated by Tomas Colbengston.

On view at Scandinavia House through July 22, 2023, Arctic Highways — Unbounded Indigenous People brings together the artwork and handicrafts of 12 Indigenous artists from Sápmi, Canada and Alaska in an exhibition highlighting the thriving cultural and spiritual communities of the Arctic region; the gallery will concurrently be open for viewing from 12-6 PM.  Learn more here.

*ASF Members must first be logged into Elevent to receive their discount*

About the Artists

Elisabeth Heilmann Blind is originally from Sisimiut in Greenland but has lived in Northern Sweden for 30 years. She was educated as an actress at the Tukak Theater in Denmark 1983-1988, and during this time she studied Butoh Dance and Noh Theater in Japan. Elisabeth works as a freelance actress and a mask dancer, as well as teaching Liberating Dance and Greenlandic Mask Dance through workshops across Scandinavia, Greenland, and other parts of the world. She also lectures in various contexts within dance and health. Elisabeth has been employed at Giron Sámi Teáhter and freelances in several different theatres in the Nordic region.

Lars Henrik Blind is a Sámi reindeer herder, yoiker, and narrator. He has been an active cultural worker in Sápmi for more than 40 years. As a young yoiker, he toured with Nils Aslak Valkeapää at home and abroad. Lars Henrik has been involved in many different cultural projects over the years, including at the Sami Theater in Kiruna. Additionally, he has been featured as a narrator around the Nordics and has performed in numerous film productions.

Britta Marakatt-Labba was born and raised in a reindeer-herding family. Their winter pasture was in Swedish Sápmi, and the summer grazing period was spent on the Norwegian side of Sápmi. She was educated at the School of Design and Crafts at the University of Gothenburg (HDK). Marakatt-Labba works with narrative, or storytelling, embroidery. Her images are miniature worlds created with needle and thread. The images depict various events and scenes from everyday life, mythology, political reflections and tales about Sámi culture and history

Marakatt-Labba’s work has been exhibited at National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo, Norway; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; KODE (art museums and composer homes) Bergen, Norway; Malmö Art Museum, Sweden; Uppsala Art Museum, Sweden; Nord Norsk Kunstmuseum (museum for northern Norwegian art); RidduDuottarMuseat, Karasjokk, Norway; Korundi – Rovaniemi Art Museum, Finland; The Anna Nordlander Skellefteå Museum, Sweden, and Skissernas Museum, Lund, Sweden.

Thomas Jackson has directed some of the most acclaimed documentary films originating from Sweden in recent years. The internationally successful “Foodies – The Culinary Jetset” let us glimpse into the life of five of the world’s leading food bloggers, travelling the globe in search of the most extreme culinary experiences. In “Kartellen: Light Up The Shadows” he follows the turmoil of Sweden’s biggest gangster rap group as their lead rapper tries to reconcile his newly-found Christian faith with the group’s violent and chaotic lifestyle. The genre-bending and visually striking “Seek and You Shall Find” sheds light on the human ability to create new worlds through our imagination, and ultimately explores the boundaries between our outer and our inner worlds. Thomas’s films have been shown around the world at such festivals as the Berlin International Film Festival, Toronto Hot Docs, Tokyo Film Festival and MOMA Tokyo. Thomas has also worked with several of the biggest documentary television platforms in Sweden, such as Kobra, Danne och Bleckan and Jills Veranda.