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Published: 21 Jan, 2014

Katarina Pirak Sikku / Nammaláhpán

NEWS The exhibition Katarina Pirak Sikku / Nammaláhpán opens at Bildmuseet on Sunday February 2, at 15:00, and runs thereafter until April 20. Welcome to a preview on Thursday January 30, at 10:00. The artist will give an introduction to her exhibition.

(The same dates for the preview and opening of the exhibition Leonor Fini / Pourquoi pas?)

“Can sorrow be inherited?” asked the artist Katarina Pirak Sikku when she looked into the studies of Sami people conducted by the Institute for Race Biology during the first half of the 20th century. She wanted to find new ways to relate to these historical events that haunted her in the form of a dark inner sadness.

She has examined archive material, but also interviewed individuals who were subjected to physical measurement and photographic registration in the lists at the State Institute for Race Biology in Uppsala – the institute that under the leadership of Herman Lundborg conducted a major study of the Sami people, whom they regarded as a “degenerate race”.

Many people have studied race biology before, but Katarina Pirak Sikku has approached the subject with totally new questions and from a different perspective. She wonders how the Sami people who were subjected to the investigations perceived the situation. Was it abuse at that time, or is this a perception we have today? At Bildmuseet she presents her artistic configuration of this material in the form of drawings, photographs, paintings, installations and texts.

The title Nammaláhpán refers to a Sami word denoting a reindeer. During the course of a reindeer’s life it is given a number of different names – descriptive names that indicate, among other things, age and gender. But as the reindeer ages it becomes a nammaláhpán – one that has lost its name. During her research project Katarina Pirak Sikku has attempted to identify some of the anonymous individuals and locations that she encountered in the Institute’s photograph albums, letters and archives. She recognised them herself, or met others who recognised both people and places. The photographs were not taken at anonymous research institutions, but in churches, schools and natural locations that are familiar to Katarina Pirak Sikku. The people turned out to be in her immediate proximity. People who have forgotten or suppressed finally start to talk, as the artist asks questions and shows them the photos she found. Katarina herself talks about her project on the following pages.

Katarina Pirak Sikku (born 1965) was educated at Umeå Academy of Fine Arts and is now resident in Jokkmokk, Norrbotten in Sweden. Her work has been shown at Korundi, Rovaniemi in Finland 2012; Grafikens hus, Mariefred in Sweden, 2012; Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín, Colombia, 2011; Árran lulesamisk senter, Drag, Norway, 2011.

The exhibition is produced by Bildmuseet with funding support from Umeå2014 and Kulturkontakt Nord. It runs from January 31 until April 20, 2014.

For further information, please contact

Sofia Johansson, Curator BildmuseetPhone +46 90 786 93 53

Programs in conjuction with the exhibition

Thursday January 30, at 10:00
Press preview, Katarina Pirak Sikku participates

Sunday February 2, at 15:00
Opening, Katarina Pirak Sikku participates

Tuesday February 4, at 18:30
The artist Katarina Pirak Sikku and Maja Hagerman, author and science journalist, in conversation about race biology and their different ways to approach the same source material.

Tuesday February 25, at 18:30
The History of Race Biology. A lecture by the Author Ola Larsmo in conjuction with the exhibition Katarina Pirak Sikku / Nammaláhpán

Tuesday March 4, at 18:30
Katarina Pirak Sikku gives a guided tour in her exhibition Nammaláhpán

Tuesday March 18, at 18:30
About the Sami Rights to Land and Water. Patrik Lantto, Centre for Sami Research (Cesam – Vartoe), Umeå University, gives a lecture in Katarina Pirak Sikku / Nammaláhpán. In cooperation with Cesam – Vartoe

Tuesday April 8, at 18:30
Curator Sofia Johansson gives a guided tour in the exhibition Katarina Pirak Sikku / Nammaláhpán

Editor: Helena Vejbrink