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

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Arctic HighwaysSeries


On April 15 in celebration of the opening of Arctic Highways, 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 — Works by Twelve Indigenous Artists From Sápmi, Canada and Alaska 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 (free).