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1. Intro text to the exhibition  2. Introduction by the curators
3. Exhibition tour plan  4. Exhibition Management
5. Foreword to the book Arctic Highways by Jan Wejdmark
6. About Meeting Place Granö

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Intro text to the exhibition

ARCTIC HIGHWAYS – Unbounded indigenous people

Across the Arctic landscape, culture and art has traveled effortlessly along with the movement of the wind, the sun and our reindeer herds, creating a network of Arctic Highways. Highways that are cultural and spiritual, real and thriving – but as invisible as the system of national borders that have imposed their rigidness and weight upon us, pitilessly trying to nullify the free flow of ideas and identity connecting our souls.

We are indigenous peoples who live in different countries and on different continents, and yet regard ourselves as peoples with kindred spirits. The borders of nation states, arbitrarily drawn without regard to the landscapes of our ancestors, have been used to group the Sámi people, and to set us up to fight against our brothers and sisters living on the other side, fencing in and silencing our voices and our knowledge.

With this exhibition we want to tell our own story, through our own experiences, using our own forms of expression. We want to provide opportunities to think broadly about what it means to be unbounded, pointing to the limits that borders set, not just for indigenous people, but for all of us.

It takes its starting point in the pandemic that swept over the world during 2020 and 2021. How will its ramifications affect indigenous peoples? Can the knowledge of our ancestors, which we still have partially intact, become important and valuable in a changed global reality?

We, twelve indigenous artists from the Arctic region, ask you to join us in a search for answers and commonalities, and for a way to cross the frozen borderland between the two words “us” and “them”. Together we can embark on a journey along the Arctic highway of culture and life that stretches from the past into the future – without ever passing a border.

Introduction by the curators

Arctic Highway – A borderless people

Indigenous people around the world existed long before the borders of nation states were drawn. Borders that have not taken into consideration the indigenous peoples’ regions, the areas which hold our traditional places that have sustained us. Borders were drawn up according to the fells, valleys, lakes and rivers, and so forth. Meanwhile, people had always travelled across these regions, raised their families, lived in communities that socialized, expressed themselves through language and culture, led their lives. Many indigenous peoples have experienced how governments have annexed their regions for their own pur­poses which have not followed the will of the indigenous peoples. Despite this, the indigenous people of the Arctic Highway have survived as a people, although they have had to struggle to maintain their culture.

Visitors to this travelling exhibition will be able to get a glimpse of what is happening in the world of Artic art and duodji Sámi handicraft. The exhibition aims to pique the curiosity of indigenous peoples and create bridges between us, and also foster understanding and insight among the public at large.

Many indigenous regions are troubled by the exploitation of their lands and cultures. Has this exploitation reached its limit? Groups of indigenous people are, at times, pitted against each other, because we live in different nation states. In such cases, we may find ourselves fighting alongside the authorities of the nation states against our own brothers and sisters who reside in other nation states. Nevertheless, we of the Arctic Highway still consider ourselves as one indigenous people. We agree that we want to work together and share our cultural experiences with each other, and that we will not let our national borders be an obstacle.

A cloud spread over the world – a cloud called “Covid 19” – and all borders were closed. Our idea for this exhibition was conceived at a time when all the world’s borders were closed. What is happening in the world? What is happening to the indigenous peoples? What happens when we must stop and reassess our way of living, both on a personal and an interpersonal level?

What has this time period done to the indigenous people? What is happening to our lands? Will there be further exploitation, and will we be forced into silence so that nation states can rebuild their economies? Or will our forefathers’ knowledge, which is still partially intact, become important in a new global reality? Have we, as individuals, learned something we wish to impart, to pass on? Now that the world is starting to open once more, have we perhaps learned to reclaim the knowledge and ways of life of our forefathers and mothers, seeing that there is more to our regions, appreciating them anew – on a personal level. Many of these thoughts are expressed through the works shown in this exhibition.

The chosen theme – a borderless people – affords everyone an opportunity to reflect, in a broader perspective, on what it truly means to be borderless, both with a view to national borders and in a purely visual sense. What we see throughout the exhibition is that many of the representatives of Sámi culture featured here are engrossed with the experience of living in a landscape, both the beautiful natural one and the more controversial manifestation, the exploited landscape. Our point of departure is the events that have taken place over the past six months. However, we recognize that the exhibition’s theme can be interpreted very broadly.

The knowledge of the indigenous peoples – the silent and the silenced knowledge – must take its place on the global art map. Now, despite historical abuses and a culture of silence, this exhibition gives us the opportunity to tell our own story, through our own experiences, using our own forms of expression.

Tomas Colbengtson, Gunvor Guttorm,
Dan Jåma, Britta Marakatt-Labba

Exhibition tour plan

House of Sweden, Washington DC (US)
opening in March 2022 and exhibiting until mid-July 2022

Yukon Arts Centre, Whitehorse (CA)
opening in September 2022 and exhibiting until November 2022

Swedish American Museum, Chicago (US)
opening in January 2023 and exhibiting until April 2023

Scandinavia House, New York (US)
opening in May 2023 and exhibiting until July 2023

National Nordic Museum, Seattle (US)
opening in August 2023 and exhibiting until October 2023

American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis (US)
opening in January 2024 and exhibiting until April 2024

IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA), Santa Fe (US)
opening in August 2024 and exhibiting until January 2025

Saemien Sijte, Snåsa (NO)
opening in June 2025 and exhibiting until September 2025

Mötesplats Granö, Granö (SE)
opening in December 2025 as a permanent exhibition

Exhibition Management

The Swedish Constitution acknowledges that two peoples live in Sweden: the Swedes and the Sámi. As an advisory firm to culture agencies, institutions, and artists, TYP Kulturkapital (TYP Cultural Capital) is engaged by both Swedish and Sámi artists, cultural institutions, and agencies.

TYP Kulturkapital operates in the junctions where culture policy, management, and artistic development meet. Our work focuses on strengthening the structural capacity of the organizations we advise and their long-term sustainability as actors in the cultural arena. The team consists of Yvonne Rock and Pratik Vithlani, who are co-founders of TYP Kulturkapital, along with their colleague Ann Larsson, who handles various roles and capacities. They have all worked with Mötesplats Granö (Meeting Place Granö) and the exhibition curators to make their vision come true. The result is Arctic Highways.

We were first approached by Jan Wejdmark and Tomas Colbengtson in 2017. They introduced us to Granö and its history, as well as their vision to connect people – the Indigenous and the majority society – through the arts. The vision to create an exhibition that could be made available to an international audience was born during this meeting. Witnessing and facilitating this journey, during which the Sámi artists not only present their own work, but also make the selections and decisions as well as freely sharing their stories, has been amazing. It is a journey that will live on in Granö, as a new space emerges which the majority society and the Indigenous people can share.

Exhibition production

Arctic Highways is produced by the Gullers Grupp in Stockholm by the exhibition designers Igor and Ilkka Isaksson, in close cooperation with TYP Kulturkapital (TYP Cultural Capital) and the exhibition’s curating team.

Igor Isaksson is an architect and Ilkka Isaksson is an exhibition designer and set designer. They have worked together with exhibition design, exhibition production, and event design for over 25 years. Having previously run their own studio, Mu AB, they joined with the Gullers Grupp in 2019.

Ilkka and Igor are also responsible for the design and layout of the book Arctic Highways, the companion publication for the exhibition which bears the same name.

Foreword to the book Arctic Highways by Jan Wejdmark

A new waypoint on our journey

This book will introduce you to twelve Indigenous artists from Sápmi, Canada, and Alaska. They invite us to join them on their spiritual and artistic quest to find answers and a sense of community. With their guidance, we are able to follow a journey along an Arctic highway of culture and everyday life that stretches from the past to the future, without passing a single border.

At the same time, this book is an extended meeting with the artists and the world premiere of their Arctic Highways exhibition. This exhibition of Indigenous art will be touring North America and Europe from 2022 to 2025. It will then be put on permanent display in Sweden, in the town of Granö, in Väster­botten county.

It is a natural choice for Arctic Highways to settle as a permanent exhibition in Granö in 2025. This town is situated by the shores of the 470-km-long Ume River, which has always been a natural summer and winter trail between the coast and the mountainous region. People have travelled unbounded up and down the river for centuries. This is where Sámi culture and Swedish rural culture have always met for trade and commerce. Ancient historical sources describe the midwinter “Lapp-fests” that were held here. As early as the 1500s, Swedish kings knew the town of Granö as an important meeting place. Even today, the Sámi herd their reindeer to the town for the winter pasture.

The small town of Granö is now becoming one of the most important places to meet the history, culture, and nature of northern Europe. Furthermore, through the creation of a global exhibition for Indigenous art – Arctic Highways – we will bring people together, laying the foundation for an international ­Indigenous peoples’ stage that is unique in the world.

Jan Wejdmark

Jan Wejdmark. Born and bred in Granö, in Västerbotten, north-eastern Sweden, he is a forest-owner with deep roots in the rural district, where his family have lived and worked for 15 generations. Wejdmark holds an MSc degree in real estate and law, including environmental studies, from KTH, the Royal Institute of Technology, in Stockholm. He is the initiator and founder of Mötesplats Granö, the Meeting Place Granö, and funding patron of Artic Highways.

About Meeting Place Granö

The Granö Meeting Place is both an idea and an actual place. The idea or concept means that meetings between people create understanding and opportunities for everyone to choose their own lives, independent of others’ choices. It is, at the same time, a physical place, a center for culture, which will be given a new lease on life in 2025, when the wandering exhibition Arctic Highways comes home to take its place as a permanent exhibition at Mötesplats Granö – Meeting Place Granö. The fact that the meeting place is situated far from the metropolises of the majority populations and other population centers shapes the concept throughout. This place provides the freedom for the indigenous scene to create its own expressions and context. Mötesplats Granö continues the tradition of the cultural meetings of the past, which took place over many centuries. Arctic Highways is the beginning of a new chapter in this historical adventure.

Follow our journey and the emergence and growth of Mötesplats Granö at

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