The Butterfly Effect # 3: Ánde Somby


Please join Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum for the third iteration of the evolving series The Butterfly Effect. Can Small Shifts in Museum Practice Generate Seismic Change Across our Societies?

Being a guest – acknowledging Indigenous land
a discussion with Ánde Somby

Date: 2 February 2024, 3-4 pm
Location: Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum, Romssa/Tromsø
The discussion will take place in English
Please register your attendance at the link here

The event will be recorded and light refreshments will be served

Ánde Somby, a renowned expert in Indigenous rights, yoik/luothi artist and advocate for bridging cultural divides, will lead a discussion on the power of land acknowledgements in relation to the museum, Sámi and Norwegian history, Indigenous culture, and our shared responsibility to the Earth and its inhabitants. 

Acknowledging land is a longstanding tradition of Native nations and communities that expresses awareness and respect for the land’s original inhabitants and caretakers. What began as a recognition of land, peoples, and cultures has transformed into an institutional practice. For museums and cultural institutions built on unceded land (for example in Aotearoa/New Zealand and Turtle Island/Canada), it has become standard to acknowledge the unceded status of the land as well as its traditional keepers, as part of a larger commitment to anti-racist and anti-colonial practices.   

If these gestures of acknowledgement are not followed by a more deeply engaged practice, they risk appearing symbolic. Even further, Indigenous relationships to land are unique and adopting a universal approach ignores the nuances and specificities of their experience. 

Rather than adopting and adjusting such culturally specific practices to the Norway/Sápmi context, the discussion led by Ánde Somby, who is also a renowned yoik artist, will highlight some of the ways of honouring the land already found in Sámi culture. Through storytelling, yoiking and personal narratives, he will address how institutions and people who are guests on ancestral Sámi land may go about paying respect. 

Ánde Somby is a Sámi luohti/yoik artist and associate professor of law at UiT The Arctic University of Norway, specialising in Indigenous Rights Law. He has produced records with fellow yoikers, including the 1985 LP Ean Máššan with his parents, the 1991 Ravddas Ravdii with Inga Juuso, and two records with his uncle Ivvár Niillas in 2000 and 2003.  

Somby co-founded the Sámi publishing house Dat in 1984. He was a member of the musical group Vajas (2003–2007) and initiated Yoiking with the Winged Ones in 2014, an album produced by Chris Watson and released in 2016. AThe project was presented as an art installation at Tromsø Kunstforening in 2016 and Sámi Dáiddaguovddáš in 2018. His collaboration extends to various artists, including Boknakaran and Rosynka in the project moya på Tvoja (1998–2002). 

Image: Ánde Somby 

The Butterfly Effect: Can Small Shifts in Museum Practice Generate Seismic Change Across our Societies? 
The series asks a simple question: Can small shifts in museum practice generate seismic change across our societies? That museums of today face profound challenges is without question; they are a symptom of the urgent and interconnected impact on our societies of the climate emergency, racial and sexual exploitation, wealth inequality, and technological innovation outpacing human comprehension. Yet museums have a role to play in activating solutions to these challenges. 

In NNKM we recognize that museums are sites of ideology and thus repositories of vested interests; we acknowledge their foundations upon extractive and racialised mechanisms. And yet, we believe those armatures can be countered by positioning ourselves as parts of mutable structures in constant flux, that foster polyphonic voices and challenge received histories. We endeavour to work through situated practices, that understand their local-beingness as an indisputable part of the many interconnected worldviews that exist. Furthermore, we advocate for museums of intervention and criticality, museums that inform state policy rather than be harnessed by it.  

Consisting of conversations and keynote lectures, performances and workshops, as well as food-sharing and storytelling, the series upholds the collective nature of this communal endeavour. As a museum undergoing a process of regional decentralisation, some of our events will take place in NNKM Tromsø/Romssa, some in NNKM Bodø/Bådåddjo/Buvdda, some in the Svalbard Archipelago and some in co-creation with partners in Finnmark/Finnmárku 

The Butterfly Effect convenes curators, artists, museum professionals, lawyers and activists whose thinking we admire, to consider radical museum and institutional models from the past, present and a speculative future. With this we hope to strengthen and celebrate a general understanding of the museum’s responsibility and potential in society. We also hope to nourish and accelerate our own internal commitment to, and implementation of, the repurposing of our resources to generate processes of transformation that are urgent and crucial to our planetary longevity. 

Previous speakers: Laura Raicovich, Rafiki 

Future speakers: Ama Josephine Budge, Léuli Eshrāghi, Anawana Haloba, Stefanie Hessler, Candice Hopkins, Melanie Keen, Kimberley Moulton, Manuela Moscoso, and more to be announced soon 

Design: Blank Blank Studio 

Tuesday 19. December 2023