Connection to the Land

Project Spotlight: A panel discussion exploring the role of art and artists in reconciliation

Souveraineté autochtone Collaboration circumpolaire Création
A series of coloured boxes in a field read “VÅKEN.”

Arts and reconciliation: What perspectives do artists within the northern arts bring to the ongoing processes of truth and reconciliation? How may art contribute with a critical voice; may creative practices be healing, and if so, isn’t it time to include art at the centre of reconciliation? 

Riksscenen—National Hub for Folk Music and Folk Dance, Kulturtanken—Arts for Young Audiences Norway and Riddu Riđđu Festival invite young Indigenous representatives from the Nordic art scene to elaborate these questions in a panel discussion. This segment will be live- streamed on the Arctic Arts Summit platform, where it will be available to watch leading up to the summit in June.

Panel discussion: CONNECTION TO THE LAND

13:30–14:30 Central European Time
Thursday April 7, 2022
The panel discussion will be conducted in English.

Host: Sandra Márjá West, Festival Director Riddu Riđđu Festival

Participants: Artist Elina Waage Mikaelsen, musician Aqqalu Berthelsen/Uyarakq and Bente Aster (Senior Advisor on Cultural Heritage, Kulturtanken).

Panel contributors:

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Aqqalu Berthelsen, also known as Uyarakq, was born in Nuuk, Greenland in the mid-80s. He is a self-taught music producer/composer and DJ with a background in metal music.

Growing up in Uummannaq, Northern Greenland, and Nuuk, the capital, has played a large role in shaping him to be a versatile musician between two worlds. He is currently doing a lot of work in the Indigenous circumpolar hip hop and rap scene with a foot in two continents, the North American Arctic and the European Arctic.

He won a Greenlandic Koda Award in 2015 for his solo album Raatiu Nukik (2014) and got nominated for Nordic Councils Music Prize in 2016 for the collaborative work Kunngiitsuuffik (2015) alongside the Greenlandic rapper Peand-eL.

He is now living in Inari, Northern Finland/Sápmi.

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Elina Waage Mikalsen is a multidisciplinary artist and musician from Romssa/Tromsø, currently living in Oslo. She works with performance, textiles, installation and text, very often connected to sound and sound-practice. Mikalsen completed her BA in visual arts at the Academy in Tromsø/Nordland School of Art and Film in 2017, and in the spring of 2021 took her MFA at the Academy of Fine Arts in Oslo. In 2015, Mikalsen was named “Young Artist of the Year” at the international Indigenous festival Riddu Riđđu, and has since participated in a number of group exhibitions and performance programs.

Her background is both Sámi and Norwegian, and this is a recurring theme in her artistic practice. This meeting within her family has become an image of the power relation haunting the Norwegian society as a whole. This intimate, familiar view on a societal issue is now the platform where she explores themes connected to identity and structural alienation.

The holes that the assimilation process created have become a starting point for fantasizing about and discussing what these gaps represent, what matter they constitute and how they affect us today. What and whose stories are being told? What is forgotten, and what is the consequence of the gaps that arise in our memories and cultural practices?

In her sound work, Elina often combines her voice with field recordings, electronics and self-built instruments to create sound spaces that exist somewhere between reality and fantasy. A space where untold stories and cosmology lie like a layer above us, or perhaps push the curtain aside. It is the emotional and narrative properties of sound that interest her, and how sound can function as a time machine that causes time to collapse and sets both future and past in motion.

A person in a blue dress with red and yellow trim stands in front of a microphone, looking out into the distance.








Sandra Márjá West (31) serves as festival director for Riddu Riđđu. Riddu Riđđu is an annual Indigenous music and culture festival in Gáivoutna (Kåfjord), Norway. West has a BA in Russian studies from the University of Tromsø and a degree in Sámi handicraft from Samernas utbildingscentrum in Jokkmokk. She is also a trained goldsmith. In addition to serving as festival director for Riddu Riđđu, West is an elected member of the Sámi Parliament of Norway.

A smiling person wearing glasses and a red cardigan stands against a wall painted with multiple colourful images.

Bente E. Aster holds an MA in Social Anthropology from the University of Oslo, Norway. She conducted her fieldwork among urban musicians and bands in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast. She currently works as a senior advisor on cultural heritage with Kulturtanken—Arts for Young Audiences Norway. In her career, she has focused on artistic and ethnic diversity, project management and process leadership.

She is also involved in cultural heritage projects exploring the possibilities and limitations between the virtual and tangible worlds. During the years 2018-2020, she was the project leader of “Sámi content in The Cultural Schoolbag”. In January 2021, Bente was admitted to the European Diploma of Cultural Project Management with the Marcel Hicter Association in Brussels. Her international project is entitled “Cultural collaboration, sustainability and Indigenous issues in the Nordic and Canadian Regions.”

This event is a part of Cultural heritage in DKS: network meeting and professional discussions hosted jointly by Kulturtanken, Riksscenen and Riddu Riđđu.