Posts Tagged: kunstner

Da gulvtæppet blev fjernet…

… kom de fineste egetræsplanker til syne. Vandskadet, slidte og ubehandlede. Da kunstner Bolatta Silis-Høegh kom til Holms Hus, havde hun en idé, om at væggene var blå. Lyseblå. Vinduerne var skoddet til, og med mobilens lommelygte ledte vi efter de blå vægge eller spor efter den. Kun en enkelt væg i det lille indgangsparti var lyseblå. Væggene skulle være blå, gulv og loft med. Det var Bolattas idé og udgangspunkt for installationen. Gulvtæppet skulle af, skodderne ned, skruer skrues ud og gøres rent.

Af Stine Lundberg Hansen

Holms Hus er et rødt hus med hvidsprossede vinduer midt på Aqqaluks Plads i Nuuk; byens første selvbyggerhus og fredet. Midt i en blomstrende have ligger det med udsigt over fjorden og kolonihavnen. Huset ligger ubrugt hen. I haven vejrer et kunstflag i flagstangen – et helt andet projekt. Dette projekt handler, om at skabe en udstillingspraksis i byrummet. At bruge rummet, byen, hvor folk er. Udenfor det museale og tiltænkte udstillingsrum. Kunsten må gerne opstå midt i en hverdag, stoppe op og vende folks sanser og tænkning – hvis bare for et øjeblik – på hovedet. Holms Hus er centrum midt i et stisystem. Engang ejet af Holm; i dag forfaldent og ejet af Kommuneqarfik Sermersooq.

På vej fra lufthavnen gennem byen blev Bolatta Silis-Høegh mødt af ukaliusaq eller kærulden, som langs vejene stod og lyste op. Midt i de blå vægge, i det blå rum, skulle være en sky af ukaliusaq – kærulden.

På latin eriophorum scheuchzeri – den arktiske kæruld, som er én kæruldsart ud af 25. Opkaldt efter en schweitzisk videnskabsmand Johann Jakob Scheuchzer (1672-1733). I disse smeltende glaciale tider er det værd at bemærke, at Scheuchzer ved at undersøge, observere og beskrive gletschere og deres bevægelser for 300 år siden gjorde gletscherne til et videnskabeligt studium. Den arktiske kæruldpå latin er nok ikke opkaldt af ham, men efter ham. Udover at lyse op i sommerfjeldet har kærulden været forsøgt brugt til at spinde garn (for porøs), som inderfor i støvler, som vatpinde, som væge (iblandet mos i tranlamper), som pude- eller dynevår.

Nu er ukaliusaq en sky i et blåt rum i Holms Hus. En installation i et værelse i et tomt og forfaldent hus. Installationen nærmes med ro; den kan gåes ind i og rundt om. Den mindste vind trækker kærulden med sig. Alligevel synes skyen stabil i forhold til de vippende, blæsende grene udenfor vinduet. Lægger man sig under skyen, snurrer de, hver kæruld har sin egen bevægelse afhængigt af stænglens bøjning og blomsterhovedets form.

Ukaliusaq smider deres frø nu, som blæser med vinden. Og blæste gjorde det i Nuuk denne torsdag, hvor installationen åbnede. Grå skyer trak hen over Malene, lavede vinger, streger, buer, puder, udposninger og sammenfald. Alt i gråt. Himlen var penselstrøg og havde sin egen kunstneriske dagsorden.

Når naturen bliver kunstig

Bolatta Silis-Høeghs installation minder om et vandfald. Et vandfald jeg så i Nikolaj Kunsthal tilbage i 2012. I am the River af Eva Koch. En kæmpe videoprojektion på væggen af et vandfald i Island, hvor hastigheden var sænket, de mange liter vand løb en anelse i slowmotion. Lige nok til at ane, føle, sanse en vis kunstighed ved det ellers naturtro vandfald. På samme måde er ukaliusaq genkendelige i Bolatta Silis-Høeghs installation, men kunstige i deres sky, hvor de i gennemsigtige tråde hænger på hovedet. En kunstighed, som giver os beskuere et andet blik – skaber en pause, en ro, et ophold - i hvert fald for et øjeblik. Ukaliusaq på hovedet med knapt synlige tråde i et blåt værelse midt i et byrum er på samme tid en genkendelse og en fremmedgørelse.

Den lyseblå farve er himlens, børneværelsets og drømmenes. Den er både reel og surreel, naturlig og overnaturlig. Ligesom kæruldens konstante sitren, alle dens bevægelser; dens på én gang sensitivitet overfor omgivelserne og dens hvide mankes stabilitet som små lyspærer i sommerfjeldet. Ved at hænge ukaliusaq på hovedet i blåt rum, som sky i en blå himmel, bliver kærulden og dens bevægelser kunstige; træder frem og bliver synlige for os et øjeblik.

På sletten i Nuuk, ikke langt fra Holms Hus, ligger skolen Ukaliusaq på et tidligere vådområde. I sin tid nok fyldt med ukaliusaq i juni og juli; kærulden vokser i sumpede områder, langs elve, søer og vandløb.

Tilbage i Holms Hus fremstod rummet lysende og mildt som sommeren – som hviler det i sig selv. Folk blev hængende i rummet, blev ved med at se, ved med at tage fotos og at se igen. Udenfor spredte frøene sig med vinden.

w/ho-w/here

On Charlotte Lakits’ photographic project "Tell Me About Home"

Et hjem er ikke nødvendigvis noget stabilt og vedholdende, men noget flydende og immigrerende, som samtidig skaber udfordringer i form af negative fordomme overfor den fremmede og udelukkelse; mod den som ikke er på vej videre, men som slår sig ned. Lorenzo Imola - BA fra Islands Universitet i kunstteori og filosofi og praktikant på Nuuk Kunstmuseum fra januar til juni 2019 - har skrevet om den franske fotograf Charlotte Lakits projekt ”Tell Me About Home”; et fotoprojekt situeret i Nuuk.

Charlotte Lakits visited Nuuk in August 2018 and again in early 2019. She wanted to get to know the people of Nuuk. The stories and pictures she collected in the process make up her project Tell Me About Home, which was presented in an exhibition in Ilimmarfik during the month of February, in Katuaq on the occasion of Multi Kulti festival, and most recently at Institut français du Danemark as part of Copenhagen Photo Festival. The present article will be included in a forthcoming book on Charlotte Lakits’s work.

Af Lorenzo Imola, foto Charlotte Lakits

A bow stretches through the air, smoothly just as resolutely – fatally. It covers indefinable distances and eventually touches down on a well definite spot, precisely and with no impact whatsoever. A destination – or destiny. There it may meet other lines – paths, lives, situations in a broad sense; lines that have perhaps always been in that particular portion of the universe, others having ended up there after analogously ‘blind’ flights, whether chosen or casual.

A joint: when these lines intersect, they sometimes bond and tie together, creating new meaning – nonetheless frequently only to leave again. But even then, maintaining maybe a connection and without ever excluding they will at some point come back, or somehow meet again.

Of arching branches and lymph nodes

This is the image that involuntarily came to my mind as I read some of the stories presented by Charlotte Lakits in her photographic project Tell Me About Home. A familiar sensation indeed, one that I have started to recognize after some time wandering across different countries: it turns up recurrently as I witness some of the improbable encounters and connections of a humanity on the move.

That is, every time the world seems to show how its crushing vastness and the nullification of that very vastness end up meeting in the lives of individuals – and consequently of societies.

The effects of such impressions can be rational disbelief, trustful surprise, laughter, acceptance of the inescapable – and unfathomable.

Whatever be the reaction, what said perception is likely to do – after dignifying in a first moment exactly the distances and all unpredictable factors that in general would seem to hinder such encounters – is to let these disproportionate obstacles feel much lighter, all borders become less meaningful and more surmountable. “Small world”. It unveils an invisible net of relations, and we discover ourselves to be part of it: a complex, branched out and interconnected narration of different existences.

To the extent that one has any interactions with the world, she will be able to identify herself within such interconnectedness – perhaps as defining a line that connects (more or less remotely apart) worlds in the World, but also as a point that through unity of place links other mobile lines.

«Greenland brings people together», that’s what she says all the time. 
And he will add: «I think it’s nice to be here and meet people like you – just passing by. And I’m just like you. I don’t know how long I’ll stay here.»

White on black

Some of the black-and-white portraits show us young faces emerging from an obscure background – an uncertain area that blending with shadows and dark hair seems at times to claim parts of the people themselves. These outlines, blurring out in the enveloping world, could arguably not present themselves more explicitly: simply and absolutely faces, persons, identities as such in and against the dark – prior to all imposed definitions.

Other photographs, characterized by pasty shadowing and strong contrasts of shining white and deep black, show people now standing out, almost imposed on the surroundings like a relief on which light can break and wind brush. Still others pictures, permeated with the greyscale, blend the individuals into their surroundings.

Together with the more environmental subjects, interleaved between the portraits as to contextualize them, all these photographs have a feeling of suspension imbued of meaning.

We breathe, and stop breathing, with the people in the pictures; it feels sometimes like inhaling the silence of a look scanning the environment, holding one’s breath like the silence that dominates a moment of reflection, perhaps even revelation – exhaling when a broader picture of life eventually discloses in front of us.

in/out/across

Charlotte Lakits has an educational background in philosophy and ethics. Her Master project dealt with the relation between identity and place, particularly in the context of migrations.

Although the scope of her project Tell Me About Home and the situation it draws up undoubtedly reach beyond Nuuk alone, we can say that, exactly by resting on a received image of Greenland as a remote and sparsely populated island, this setting allows the net of lives and stories and the interconnectedness of present-day world to emerge even more vividly.

The form of life “on the move” being hinted at here nearly normalizes George Simmel’s characterization of the “stranger”, which in 1908 he described “not in the sense often touched upon in the past, as the wanderer who comes today and goes tomorrow, but rather as the person who comes today and stays to morrow. He is, so to speak, the potential wanderer: although he has not moved on, he has not quite overcome the freedom of coming and going.”

The mobility we are talking about takes on profoundly different forms though. It is not only the “lyrical mobility” of the (more or less well-off) individual, free to wander explore and experience, it is also – and more problematically – the highly limited, desperation-fuelled one of refugees and other migrants, or even the commuting between fixed poles made necessary due to scattered families and need for work, and so on.

Radical relocation, or a state of continued mobility marked by a lack of stable points of reference would appear particularly weighty when that involves children and youth, in other words those groups that are right starting to tackle the question of who they are. While they may be affected in a heavier way and disorientated by multiple co-existing environments and languages, by the very same token they probably have the possibility to make sense of such situate-ion(s) right from early on: understanding diversity and learning how to deal with this form of life, the balance, self-reliance and openness crucial for living without one prevailing gravitational centre.

Sometimes they wonder where they belong. Where is this place called ‘home’?
Because they were born here, because they know the language, they’ve been told that they are as Greenlandic as they are Danish and Russian.

both-and ? neither-nor

Used as we are to a pragmatic need for locating one specific origin (preferably geographical and national, and subsequently cultural too) with which to identify people, the life patterns shaped by shifting residence, families with mixed origin, and increasingly multi-ethnic societies can come to challenge an understanding of identity as a unitary, clearly outlined phenomenon bound to an origin.

Feeling negatively divided with regard to identity (that is to say, neither one nor the other, rather than both-and), with the consequent arduous quest for a definition of some kind, is a condition experienced also by many Greenlandic citizens who happen to have roots elsewhere, Danish for example.

Some goes for second-generation immigrants far and wide across the globe, who happen to live in societies that try to alienate them on the basis of superficial factors (physical outlook, names, etc.), thus refusing to acknowledge them as equals. With frustration- and ignorance-fostered intolerance becoming louder and louder, this is indeed a growing socio-political issue these days.

The path traced by the present project brings the question about identity well beyond the split, leading us rather to tackle the notion of a fluid identity associated to peregrine lifestyles. Identity ceases to be fixed and clearly circumscribed in relation to places, it frees itself from belonging to some unitary national entity and allows rather for contamination and plasticity in the emergence of an individual. In general, identity is situated in lived experience rather than bound to coordinates with predefined characteristics.

To put individuals in a geographic and cultural context, based on their origin(s), is surely useful to the extent that it allows to locate more or less precisely an environment in which they grew up or have lived, and that as such is likely to have had an influence of some kind on the person they are. What not least is being challenged here is the necessity for such environments of origin, object of a sense of belonging, to both be confined to one and to completely condition people’s identity.

People above (all) – places under(lie)

Here it is worth pointing to the fact that talking of “environment” allows us to bring both place and people into the picture. Admittedly, in Charlotte’s view people weight definitely more than the places alone: when deprived of a particular community one identifies with, a place turns empty.

I feel to add here that such “emptied place” would then mostly act as a familiar frame, in which one ends up standing alone. The more or less rooted knowledge of the place would at that point constitute only some kind of basic relation to the world (to the situate-ion), on which to start building new meaning.

Fundamental to Charlotte is to challenge a certain negative attitude that can arise when facing the possibility of a fluid, open-ended form of identity and home; some may nostalgically harm the dissolution of stable singularity as the paradigm of belonging, and invoke the superior benefit of having one place to call home. Instead, if anything, we should embrace this “fluidity” as a promising alternative way of being situated in the world – a new side of that fundamental condition we might have otherwise taken for granted.

Se mere om Charlotte Lakits

LER

Fra Gukki Nuka var 14 år og 33 år frem holdt han på en hemmelighed; en hemmelighed, som kom til at styre hans liv. I mellemtiden uddannede han sig til keramiker. Og det er dét denne artikel skal handle om og så om et levet liv fortalt baglæns. Hemmeligheden - det traume samt den kunst - denne førte med sig, kan man læse om andetsteds*. Vi begynder nu og ender ved begyndelsen…

Jeg arbejder i hvidt lertøjsler. Selvom det er tørt, kan jeg fjerne det, jeg ikke er tilfreds med og arbejde det op igen. Og så er det robust – der er papir i leret – når det brændes får det en struktur så stabil som Eiffeltårnet.

”Kaalaralaaq” er en vase, en perlekrave, et stykke keramik. Og en del af udstillingen ”Tupilappassuit” på Nuuk Kunstmuseum, som vises frem til slut april. Lavet af Gukki Nuka.

Kaalaralaaq, lille Karen, var, hvad Gukkis farmor blev kaldt. Elsket af Gukki og af alle. Gukki inkorporerer og mindes personer i sin keramik. De keramiske sjælesten, der udsmykker Grønlands kredsretter, har hver inkorporeret et navn kun Gukki kender til. Som hyldest og som minde.

Hun troner midt i udstillingen, hende Kaalaralaaq, manifesteret, dog stadig blød og rund. Gukki kalder det sin feminine side; sin forkærlighed for de bløde og runde former. Bunden er buet, som et skib, for at ophæve tyngdekraften.

Alligevel er Kaalaralaaq et centrum, et samlingspunkt. Kvinden indtager og hviler i rummet. Med en perlekrave af tupilakker. Tupilakkerne her har opløst sig selv som ondt og hævngerrigt væsen; de er en gentagelse og et ornament, ligesom perlekraven. Måske en beskyttende ånd – som de mange fantasihulde kunsthåndværkstupilakker, der står i folks hjem; endda gives som beskyttende (hus)ånd i indflytningsgave. En ånd, der ikke har noget med den gamle tupilak at gøre, men en ny harmløs betydning måske fremkommet gennem kunstens fantasifulde udformninger af det sagnomspundne væsen.

Man kan jo udsmykke Kaalaralaaq med fjeldets blomster – sætte dem i vand – hvis ikke den stod på et kunstmuseum.

Perlekraveflasken blev lavet i Danmark efter, at Gukki Nuka var blevet uddannet i Canada.

Jeg bygger først yderskålen, den store skål, og brænder den. Så bruger jeg den som form for inderskålen. Leret krymper og skaber luft imellem.

Inderskålen kan bevæge sig, men Gukkis dobbeltskåle kan ikke skilles ad. Dobbeltskålene opstod i Canada, hvor Gukki var væk fra de to kulturer, der var styrende for hans liv. Med en dansk mor og en grønlandsk far står han, som mange andre i Grønland, imellem og i to kulturer. Luften mellem dobbeltskålene er Gukki, hans verden; de to skåle kan ikke skilles ad.

I Canada fandt han sit keramiske sprog i denne helt tredje kultur. Dobbeltskålene blev formgivet ud fra en tanke om sejlads og skibsfartens betydning i Grønland. Sejlads som familieforetagende, som overlevelse og som dét, der binder og har bundet øen Grønland sammen på kryds og tværs og med resten af verden.

Gukki Nuka skulle have været til Japan med hjælp fra kunstnerne Anne-Birthe Hove (1951-2012) og Arnannguaq Høegh (f. 1956) på et 10årigt ophold, men som det hele var på plads, mistede de kontakten til den ældre japanske keramiker; måske døde han. Gukki kom i stedet til Canada.

Han havde opdaget keramikken på et højskoleophold, hvor han manglede et fag og skulle vælge imellem, hvad han opfattede som pest eller kolera – håndarbejde eller keramik. Men i samme øjeblik han gik i gang med keramikken, forelskede han sig i leret, udtrykket fascinerede ham, og det blev en besættelse. Han kunne ikke stoppe igen.

Siden han var lille, havde det ellers været tegningen, som han var tiltrukket af. ”Hold da op du tegner godt”, kommenterede hans far og en ven på én af hans tegninger som barn. Det er det første, Gukki Nuka husker, om sin kunstneriske løbebane.

* http://www.nuukkunstmuseum.com/da/udstillinger/revner-i-sjaelen/

Angst og styrke – kvinder i kunsten

Kvinderne går igen i Jukke Rosings fotografier – både som myter og som motiver. Jeg mødte hende under Nuuk Nordisk Kulturfestival 2017 til en snak om kvinderne og om angst. Hun er i gang med at udsmykke kredsrettene i Grønland med den kvindelige gudinde for retfærdighed Justitia, og i udstillingen Assinga 4x4 var hendes værker fotografiske fortolkninger af Maliina, solen, og Sassuma Arnaa, Havets Moder.

De mørke sider af mennesket kunne de kaldes. Beslægtet med døden kaldes de sygdomme – til tider tabuiseret. Angst, depression og andre psykiske lidelser, der folder sig ud som huller at falde i.

Huller at falde i – afgrunde – men også dybder i livet, hvori skabelsen hviler; myternes stof er skabt ud af den kaostiske afgrund – det vidner den ene gudeverden efter den anden om.

Disse mørke sider har et tilhørsforhold til kunsten; ikke 1:1, ikke nødvendigt, måske nærmere en flirten og af og til en dødelig én af slagsen. Et kort kastet blik på litteraturen, musikken og kunsten historisk og nu bekræfter dette.

Livet består, fordi der er afgrunde at falde i og for foden af disse døden. Angst, depression og psykiske lidelser bevæger sig i livets grænseområder. De er hverken leg eller uskyldig flirten, de er heller ingen bevidst beslutning, de er.

ANGSTEN

- Størstedelen af gangene bruger jeg mig selv (i fotografierne, red.). Min angst har jo handlet meget om, at jeg ikke har haft kontrol. Så den kontrol jeg besidder, er den jeg skaber. Selv da jeg havde det allerdårligst, tog jeg billeder af mig selv. Og det virker måske, som var man selvforstærkende i ens lille ynkelige verden, men når jeg havde modet til at tage billeder af mig selv, så var det ligesom et punktum i det stykke; nu var jeg nået så meget længere.

Modellerne i Jukke Rosings fotografier er oftest hende selv eller én af hendes lillesøstre. Det handler om tryghed og kontrol, om at få det billede, det udtryk og den fortolkning, hun gerne vil have.

- Jeg har altid bildt mig selv ind, at det (fotografiet, red.) skal være i momentet, men der ligger jo altid enorm meget tankemylder bag, og så ender det med at blive opstillet i sidste ende. Der ligger mange søvnløse nætter iblandt mine billeder, og det er ikke negativt. Det er sådan en del af mit virke.

Jukke Rosing har udsmykket kredsretten i Grønland med en fortolkning af den romerske gudinde for retfærdighed - Justitia. Justitia bevæger sig i Jukkes fotografier i et grønlandsk landskab indsvøbt i et flyvende hvidt klæde, og hun manifesterer sig, når retfærdighede sker fyldest.

På udstillingen Assinga 4x4 udstillede Jukke Rosing fire fotografier, der var fortolkninger over havets moder – Sassuma Arnaa – og Maliina, solen.

- De er jo de udstødte – om de har valgt det selv eller ej. Maliina vælger at stikke af – Havets Moder bliver udstødt, hun bliver smidt i havet af sin far. Og de må jo besidde enorm stor sorg og enormt stort had.

STYRKEN

- Mine billeder handler også om bearbejdelse. Jeg tror, at det er derfor, at jeg vælger nogle historier, som måske kan afspejle det. Jeg ser utrolig stor skønhed i det halvulykkelige.

Jukke Rosing er vokset op med det grønlandske mytestof – hendes farfar, kunstneren Jens Rosing, er kendt for hans bøger, billeder og illustrationer. Selv siger hun, at disse myter kom ind med modermælken.

Hun har prøvet at fotograferer mænd, eller at bruge mænd fra myterne som motiv, men det gik ikke. Det er kvinderne, som forbliver hendes motiv. Fra myternes verden fortolker hun kvinder, som går så grumme meget igennem og vender denne grumme historie til en styrke. Det fascinerer Jukke Rosing:

- Det er jo enormt grumme historier, alligevel har de en utrolig styrke og vælger at vende deres historier om til en styrke, de kan bruge. Jeg har lidt af angst i mange år, så det med at finde styrke i ens svagheder er jo enormt smukt. Når man har haft noget, der ligesom har været ens downfall, så synes jeg, det er vigtigt at komme til et punkt i ens liv, hvor man kan bruge det til noget. Man skal ikke lade det blive ens endeligt, om ikke andet må det være en ny start.

- Da jeg var allermest syg, var jeg så ked af, at jeg aldrig kunne blive mig selv igen. Så var der én, der sagde til mig, at det bliver du jo aldrig - du bliver aldrig den samme, når du først har været nede og skrabe - og at det handlede om, at jeg skulle definere mit nye jeg – du har et nyt udgangspunkt.

The Silence of Friends

Denne artikel er anden ud af to artikler. Den finske kunstner Inkeri Jäntti var del af Nuuk Kunstmuseums residensprogram 2017, og i de måneder hun boede i Nuuk var hun i dialog med kvinder, som havde traume efter seksuelt overgreb; et gennemgribende tema og afsæt i hendes kunst, som har rødder i eget traume. Hendes fokus er ikke stedsbestemt, hverken specifikt grønlandsk eller finsk, men hvad kunsten kan gøre med traume og tabu.

Denne artikel er skrevet af Inkeri ud fra en samtale med to kvinder i Nuuk. Samtalen bearbejdede hun i sin kunst, med kvindernes tilladelse og accept, og gav deres fortællinger et udtryk. Artiklen er skrevet på engelsk, og samtalen foregik på engelsk. Den første artikel er et essay over kunst og terapi og kan læses her

Foto: Inkeri Jäntti hyrede danser Maliina Jensen til at være model i nogle hendes fotografier. De sejlede til Kangeq – en efterladt bygd lidt udenfor Nuuk – og fotograferede et æstetisk udtryk over traume inspireret af fjeldgængeren eller Qivittoq – dem som gik til fjelds eller forlod samfundet i skam eller skyld.

Text, photography and video by Inkeri Jäntti

Looking at them, you’d think nothing is amiss with these two women sitting with me in a living room in Greenland’s capital city Nuuk. These women who have been physically, sexually abused. Raped.

There, I said it. It’s a strong word.

“I was 12,” Julie, who is 47 now, says. “We were spending time after school at the youth center and a boy asked me to go back with him to our school. He had forgotten his backpack at the school gym and had a key. It was late and he said he was scared to go alone. I went with him because I knew who he was.” Julie has short, smartly cut black hair and glasses. She’s wearing a knitted scarf and matching handwarmers. They look like armour on her when she presses her palm on her chest, above her heart. “My heart is beating fast, when I tell this story. Almost nobody knows. Only my husband.”

I’m sitting with Julie at the home of 26-year-old Ann-Margrethe, Julie’s ex-boyfriend’s sister. I’ve already met Ann-Margrethe earlier, when she told me her story. Now she offered to act as an interpreter between Julie and me. Ann-Margrethe works in a local grocery store and rest of the time focuses on taking care of her one-year-old daughter Lily. Tonight Lily doesn’t want to go to bed and toddles around the living room, laughing loudly. She wants to look at photos of my cat on my iphone. “Avva!” she says and slides the touchscreen expertly to see another photo. “It means dog in Greenlandic baby language,” Ann-Margrethe clarifies. “But Lily says that about most animals.” When she goes to put Lily to bed, I sit with Julie who doesn’t know a lot of English. We trade some language tips, me trying to imitate the soft, throaty “q” sound of Greenlandic and she trying to roll out the hard “r” of Finnish. We laugh when we both fail.

It’s not an easy situation, describing to a stranger how somebody hurt your body and mind, took your sense of agency. But these women seem to do quite easily. Only when I ask how they feel, they reveal the difficulty. “I’m shaking, “ says Ann-Margrethe. But you can’t tell. She’s used to being strong and not showing her feelings. Just like the tens of thousands of other sexually abused women in the world, and in Greenland. Women must stay quiet and take it. “I’m always trying, “ she says. “You always have to try to hide it and be strong.”

A CULTURE OF LOOKING AWAY

“I think it is a cultural thing to have to hide it,” Julie says. “It’s a stigma on the house, if somebody has been raped. Especially if it happened inside the family. You can never reveal what’s wrong.

People will be afraid of what other people will say, will we ever get jobs again.” Rape is taboo. But only for the victim. The perpetrator doesn’t face any of the responsibility.

“It makes women here easy victims,” Ann-Margrethe adds. “The rapists know nobody will reveal it and their actions won’t have consequences. That’s why they keep doing it.”

When Ann-Margrethe was young, around six - she can’t remember exactly - she went to spend the night with her sister’s family. Her uncle also lived there. She hadn’t spent much time with him before and felt happy when he took special notice of her. “He took me to the store and bought me wine gums and cup noodles. It felt like I had a whole new family.”

In the evening, she shared a bed with her uncle and his children. During the night, she woke up to her uncle staring at her and reaching into her underwear. “I remember his heavy breathing. I tried to turn away from him and wait for him to leave. It felt like hours.” Eventually, he was gone and she ran to her sister to tell what had happened. She was told to go back to sleep and the problem would be dealt with tomorrow. “The next day, somebody beat my uncle up a little. But that was it. My family still talks to him. He doesn’t live that far away so I run into him often. I feel sick if I even see him.”

Both of these events happened a long time but to Julie and Ann-Margrethe, they’re still present in their lives daily. Both have suffered from depression and memories intruding on their lives for decades.

“I don’t remember exactly what happened at the gym.” Julie says. “The boy pushed me into the equipment closet and then I blacked out. Sometimes bits and pieces come back. I remember the smell of a cologne and sweaty man. I remember him holding my hands behind my back like the police do when they arrest someone. He was my cousin’s best friend.”

Ann-Margrethe interprets most of my questions as we don’t share enough common language with Julie to talk more than about the snow situation in Nuuk. The two women sit on opposite sides of me, talking in Greenlandic and I watch as Julie’s face moves with her story. She doesn’t cry and she’s not dramatic but sometimes she pauses and I see the inner struggle.

“When it was over, I asked him why did it. He didn’t say anything, just pushed me out.”

For a long time, Julie didn’t tell anybody. She went on to live a turbulent teenage life where everything around her made her angry. She lashed out at others, loving it when she could make somebody else angry. “It felt like they were expressing my anger and for a moment, I felt relief.” She studied to be an accountant and later on a social worker. She now works in a small home for the handicapped, taking care of two patients suffering from a very rare syndrome. She says she loves her work. “For the first few weeks I was a bit lost. But then I knew this is the right job for me.”

FLASHING BACK TO THE PAST

Many feelings follow sexual abuse and trauma, such as shame, depression and contrarily enough: feeling numb as well as uncontrollably aggressive. Anger is often difficult to feel and express after rape but it’s very present in both Ann-Margrethe’s and Julia’s stories. “I hate wearing too tight pants,“ Ann-Margarethe says. “It makes me feel like his hand is still in there. Sometimes that makes me angry and I get irritated with my mother and my boyfriend.” I feel glad, in some strange way, that they are able to feel and express anger. It was a bit different for me.

Many years ago, I met a boy, fell in love and started dating him. People told me he was a bit bad news but I didn’t care. I was having a difficult time, I’d been depressed, my self-esteem was low. Quickly our relationship deteriorated into him being unstable and unpredictable, lashing out at me for talking to his brother (I must have been cheating) or having a urinary tract infection (I must have

been cheating) or even talking about our relationship to my friends. He felt I didn’t need friends when I had him, or maybe I didn’t even have real friends. Who would really like a person like me?

When I started crying after he insulted me for behaving stupidly and not being able to keep my mouth shut, he told me it was for my own good. If I felt hurt, he called me too sensitive. “It’s normal to fight like this,” he said. When it came to sex, I realized I was tuning out. He didn’t care about what I felt or if I felt anything at all. Mostly I didn’t. If sex hurt, he tried to persuade me to continue and sometimes even pushed me to continue. I became afraid to say no. In the end, whatever I said, no or yes, I didn’t know what it meant.

The relationship ended quite soon and I should count myself lucky that it did. Afterwards, it took me months to understand what he did to me and how I changed after that. I distanced myself from almost everybody, I gained weight, I started dressing differently. I was afraid of people walking behind me and if an interpersonal conflict occurred, I could already hear a voice in my head berating me for the stupid things I’d done. One day, I ended up on a web forum for raped women and reading their experiences, I found myself thinking: this is how I feel, but why? It’s impossible to say if what happened in my past relationship was rape, sexual abuse or “only” a bad relationship. I don’t use the R-word often. I stutter as I try to say it in my own language. In English, it’s a little bit easier. My case could never have gone to the police, so in the end it doesn’t really matter how it’s defined.

SEEKING SUPPORT

I was lucky to have received help afterwards. Having been a depression patient for years before, I already had a therapist who I still continue to see today. The women in Greenland are less lucky. “We went to court,” Ann-Margrethe says. “But it was dismissed. There wasn’t enough evidence.” You can only wonder why judges think a child would lie about something like that. “I didn’t know what it was that happened. At that time, we didn’t have access to internet or even that much TV. All I knew was that it was wrong and belonged in the adult world.”

About 5 years ago she went to talk to a social service worker about her case. “It was a really bad experience,” she says. “ I was waiting to get in and they asked me to tell my story there out loud, in front of everybody. When I was assigned to a social worker, she didn’t even ask me in. I was standing at the doorway and the woman said to me: ‘You were raped only once. I can’t see why we should help you. Get over it.’ It still haunts me.” Now that she has recently had a baby, she has more access to health care and could go to a few sessions with a psychologist. “It’s until my baby is two. After that, they don’t care.”

Julie found some help through her studies. She was studying to become a social worker but when she was confronted with a course about abuse, the memories became overwhelming. “I went to a guidance counselor and told her I can’t do this, I’m going to quit school. The counselor pressed me to tell her what was going on and eventually got me 30 sessions with a psychologist.” When I ask her if it helped, she nods.

There are very few health care professionals in Greenland who could deal with trauma and its aftermath. Many regular citizens don’t have access to anybody who would help despite countless studies that show that the effects of sexual trauma can be long lasting and difficult to overcome by yourself.

Most sexual abuse survivors have mental health issues and aside that, frequently suffer of unexplained pains and aches, such as pelvic inflammation and headaches. Their emotional and sex lives are often irrevocably altered. “For a while I would just sleep with people without thinking about it,” Julie says. “But when I had my first child, I started to understand my body. That I should only have sex when I really wanted to.” When sexual agency and choice are taken away from you, it can become impossible to recognize or even tolerate sexual feelings. “Often I don’t want it all,”

Ann-Margrethe says. “It brings back too many memories. It doesn’t feel like a normal part of a loving relationship.”

CONNECTING WITH PEOPLE

Julie and Ann-Margrethe want to help others who share their experience. When they heard about a Finnish photographer (that’s me) coming to Nuuk to do an art project concerning the experiences of abused women, they wanted to tell their story, hoping it could help others. “I’m still working on my trauma, “ Julie says. She’s on antidepressants and has bad spells. “If I have a bad day, I talk to my husband. My life is better now and I have a good relationship.” As our interview drags on, Julie’s husband calls her to check when she’s coming home. It’s sweet that he worries about her.

Ann-Margrethe, as a new mother, worries about her child. “Having Lily made me want to talk about this and bring things to light. I never want anything like this happen to her, or any other baby.

Sometimes I can’t sleep at night because I’m so worried about children having these experiences. The only way to make this situation better is to talk about it openly.”

We meet in the evenings when Lily has gone to sleep or Lily’s father is home from work and can look after the baby. Ann-Margrethe’s house is cozy and lovely, a traditional colourful wooden house at the center of Nuuk. “It’s become hard to connect with people after what happened,” she says. “It feels as if other people can never be in the same place if this has never happened to them. Trusting people becomes almost impossible.”

Despite the feelings of isolation, there’s a kinship when I talk to Ann-Margrethe and Julie. During our talks, most of what they says rings true to me. In this horrible thing, we are united and we can share each other's experiences. I can only be grateful that they have been able to trust me enough to share their experiences with me. Looking at them, I don’t see shame or a stigma, I see women who have struggled and become stronger for it. It’s as if we have an odd secret society now. Listening to them, I realize that deep down in all of our communities, there exists a vibrant thread of women supporting each other. We need to trust it and bring it forward. We can nurture change.

The best way to help is to talk about it, out loud.

Inkeri Jänttis hjemmeside

Lysindfald

Af Stine Lundberg Hansen

Nuuk Kunstmuseum har siden efteråret kørt et residensprogram med kunstnere fra Norden. Hver kunstner går i dialog med samfundet omkring; med Nuuk og med Grønland. Hver kunstner søger samarbejde, udforsker og udtrykker sig gennem sit ophold i Nuuk på små to måneder.

Den tredje kunstner i residensprogrammet* var Lotta Törnroth, som arbejder med havet; havet med længslen og rædslen knyttet til sig. I de tidlige morgentimer, før solen stod op, var jeg hendes assistent, da hun var ude ved fjorden og fotografere. Motivet var det samme – hende med lommelygten ved vandet; et motiv hun har gentaget forskellige steder i verden.

En gentagelse som sammen med den dialog og udforskning af Nuuk og fjorden – mennesket og havet – bliver en uddybning og et rum for forståelse og for ubegribeligheder overfor havet og dets magt over mennesket. Dette er indtryk fra morgener i Nuuk med kunstner Lotta Törnroth:

 

Ved nattens hæld i det tiltagende morgenlys stod kunstneren i landskabet ved fjorden med lommelygten hele tiden. Eksponering.

Denne morgen var stille. Havet havde lagt sig flat, og hver enkel farve fik tid til at strække sig over henover himlen.

Jeg skulle trykke en knap i bund – og slippe den igen. Udløse lysindfaldet og lukke igen. Eksponering.

Den tidlige morgen er et arbejde mod lyset med lyset før dagen.

Kunstneren stod på klipperne ovenpå sneen. Ved vandet, tæt ved. Altid med sin lommelygte Lyset.

Lyset pegede mod linsen, mod udløseren – mig? Den pegede mod sneen, stenene, fjorden og ud af billedet. Mod noget, nogle og alligevel ikke nogen.

Kunstneren arbejder mellem linsen og havet. Søgende og gentagende. Hendes krop, hendes placering, en rød jakke, en orange striktrøje, et rødt hår. Hende, kameraet og mig med udløseren. Retninger i landskabet.

En anden morgen var uden farver. Himlen overdækket, et mågepar imellem, og landskabet bart. Skrattende mens bølgerne – vågorna – kom med tidevandet. Vuggende, slikkende tager det til. Tidens vand.

Kunstneren kravlede langt ud. Jeg blev ved kameraet med knappen. Udløseren. Stående, mens kunstneren sprang i rundgang først dansende med lyskeglen, så i tid uden lys. Hun ville ikke eksponeres og træde tydeligt frem.

For lysets skyld skulle man kunne sige.

Forstår jeg, bosat her, privilegiet i dette landskab? I lyset af øer, fjelde og fjord. Privilegiet af ikke at skulle spejde efter de kuldsejlede.

Kunstneren lagde aldrig sin lommelygte. (Selv i lommen lyste den) Selv i dagslyset lyste den. Mod havet.

 

* Der kan læses mere om to første kunstnere – Marte Lill Sombye og Tinne Zenner – og deres møde og udforskning af Nuuk i det grønlandske kunst- og kulturtidsskrift Neriusaaq 1/2017 : http://neriusaaq.gl/ . Den fjerde og foreløbigt sidste kunstner i dette residensprogram – Inkeri Jäntti – gæster og arbejder i disse måneder (april/maj) i Nuuk. Følg med på Nuuk Kunstmuseums Facebookside eller på Inkeris blog : http://inkeritravels.blogspot.fi.