Panel discussion: To Sustain and to Change - Crafting Sustainable Practices

Tuesday 23. February 2021
Just a Pair of Winter Shoes (2019) av Sara Inga Utsi Bongo. Foto: Ingun A. Mæhlum

Norwegian Crafts, in collaboration with The Norwegian Association for Arts and Crafts (Norske Kunsthåndverkere) and Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum, is hosting an online panel discussion as part of the programme for The Annual Craft Exhibition 2020 (Årsutstillingen).

Sustainability transitions that address intertwined ecological and social issues concern a growing number of creative practitioners and cultural institutions. However, the word sustainability gets thrown around to the extent that the concrete matters at stake easily become blurred. Instead of addressing sustainability conceptually, this panel takes a practice-led approach. We will discuss how various aspects of sustainability are present in the practices of a Sámi duojár, a jewellery artist with a classical goldsmith’s education, and a multidisciplinary artist.

The three invited panellists, Sara Inga Utsi Bongo, Philipp Spillmann and Trond Ansten, are all situated in Sápmi and Northern Norway. From their differing cultural perspectives, they are in dialogue with their environment, engaging with local material flows and cycles. While doing so, they sustain but also re-interpret age-old crafts traditions. In the panel, they discuss how crafting can be a way of caring for the community and environment, and perhaps even a form of resistance. The panel will be moderated by Ki Nurmenniemi, a Helsinki-based curator of contemporary art, art writer, and doctoral researcher in interdisciplinary sustainable sciences.

The panel discussion will take place on Zoom, Friday 26th of February at 1 PM CET

Register here.

Facebook event.

R18 and R19 (2020) by Trond Ansten. Photo: Ingun A. Mæhlum


Trond Ansten (b.1984) works in a symbiosis of biology, cultural knowledge, and social aspects. He received his education from the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe and is now based in Tromsø. With a background as a biologist and a strong passion for hunting, fishing, and harvesting, he focuses on the potential within nature and our relation to it. His works are material based and the expression extends from sculpture and installation to film, performance and relational works. Ansten has exhibited at Barents Spektakel, The Arctic Arts Festival, Tokyo Photographic Art Museum and Lofoten International Art Festival. He received the Government Work Grant for younger artists in 2019.

Sara Inga Utsi Bongo (b.1984) is a duojár (crafter of traditional sami duodji) from Guovdageaidnu. With her strong connection to the reindeer herding, she prepares skins and makes traditional duodji mainly of skin and fur. She also works with textile printing, textiles and yarn. The starting point in her practice are items her people have made and still make for everyday life. In the processes of preparing materials and making useful items, such as footwear and clothing Bongo looks for aesthetical and other values revealed. In her work she highlights those values and ideas, and strive to maintain, develop and transfer traditional knowledge. She gets her inspiration from the surrounding nature, animals, and her reindeer herding lifestyle.

Philipp Spillmann (b.1977) completed a classical goldsmith apprenticeship, including studies at Schule für Gestaltung in Zürich, Switzerland. He moved to Norway in 2001 and became a member of the Norwegian Association of Arts and Crafts in 2011. He has participated in national and international exhibitions focusing on art jewelry and objects, and he has recently developed art for public spaces.  His work is part of the permanent collections of KODE Art Museums, the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo, and the Northern Norway Art Museum in Tromsø, Norway.

Screwed (2019) by Philipp Spillmann. Photo: Ingun A. Mæhlum


Ki Nurmenniemi (they/them) is a Helsinki–based curator, writer and researcher focusing on how ecological sustainability is being addressed by art practitioners and organisations. They have been curating art exhibitions and transdisciplinary projects in Finland and internationally since 2010. Ki is the co-founder of Punos, a new art commissioning and research platform that creates imaginaries and methods for more just and sustainable futures.

Most recently, Ki curated the online public programme Care Practice: Recipes for Resilience, with Ceci Moss of GAS Gallery, LA (2020); the exhibitions Kanssaelo – Beings with at the Fiskars Village Art & Design Biennale (2019); Reclaiming Vision by Marjolijn Dijkman & Toril Johannessen at Helsinki Festival 2019; and Fictional Frictions as part of Gwangju Biennale 2018. In 2012–2018, Ki worked as a curator with HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme, where they led the project Frontiers in Retreat – Multidisciplinary Approaches to Ecology in Contemporary Art (2013–2018).

This text was written and initially published by Norwegian Crafts the 2nd of february 2021.

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