The Boundaries of Death Challenged

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- Jean Claude Saintilus, Jean-Louis Huhta and Per Huttner perform at Lenin in Murmansk (June 7), Ä’vv Skolt Sami Museum in Neiden (June 8), Terminal B in Kirkenes (June 9), Fristaden in Stockholm (June 13) and at Putte’s Bar & Pizza in Helsinki (June 14).

 

Project idea and methodology
The project is a platform to bring together music and visual art from Haiti and the Nordic countries to reflect on how human mortality informs our every day existence. Together the artists will develop a collaborative performance that brings together two distinct and opposing cosmologies: On the one hand, the secular, scientific Nordic tradition that sees death as the end and the Haitian vision where the boundaries between the living and the dead remain porous (The dead “live” among as humans and voodoo artists like Jean-Claude Saintilus interact with them on a daily basis.) The artists will create a performance together during a two-week residency in Kirkenes that reflects on these questions. They will continue to develop it as they travel through Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark integrating traces of the research as well as knowledge acquired along the way. They will use modular synthesizers, percussion, acoustic instruments, voice and video projections in the process.

The journey will give them a better understanding how the two perspectives on death and what can be learned from them. The project also offers new insights into how inter-cultural and interdisciplinary dialogues can support tolerance as well as offer depth in our daily lives.

The performances will be presented in two forms:
- Clubs, museums and concert halls in the visited cities.
- In public spaces including old burial places, disused execution places and other spaces where mankind is confronted with its mortality.

The two formats allow the group to reflect on artistic, metaphysical and cultural aspects of the problematic. The project offers a wide range of audiences to meet expanded ideas about art and performance that Curatorial Mutiny has developed. The residency in Kirkenes will also include visits to sites on all three sides border of the border area where clashes between Finnish, Norwegian, Russian and German soldiers took place during the WWII. It will in other words offer a different perspective on the historical events.

The artists will also meet with the Sami community in order to learn about the role and methods of their noaidis (shamen). The meetings will focus on how they perceive the interaction between the living and spirit world.The collaboration with Skolt Sami Museum will allow the artists to engage in this dialogue and offers a third perspective on the questions that the project addresses.

Outcomes
The project will lead to 11 public performances in Norway, Russia, Sweden, Finland and Denmark in Spring 2018. It will offer diverse communities the opportunity to interact with and learn from Haitian art, music and culture as it interacts with Nordic communities. It offers experimental and creative ideas for interactions between cultures and novel ways for how artists, researchers and performers can develop new work in dialogue.

The project will create new contacts between Nordic cities and their artistic communities that have not been in contact before. The participating artists, researchers and partner organisations can learn from each other through interdisciplinary exchange between visual art, music, dance and anthropology. It also inspires them to develop methods and knowledge with long-lasting impact. By bringing Haitian ideas about life and death into dialogue with Nordic values the project also supports openness and tolerance in the visited communities as well as offering both sides important creative and critical input.

The Nordic cultures are often perceived as being dark and gloomy. The project sheds new light on these ideas by bringing them into dialogue with Haitian culture and practices. It connects separated artistic communities across the Nordic countries and brings them in contact with academics and researchers that would not otherwise meet. The working process opens for the creation of new formats for expanded and interdisciplinary art practices to spread across the Nordic countries.

The project increases awareness and knowledge about Nordic artists and their practices by opening to new audiences. It also offers a wide range of audiences to meet expanded ideas about art and performance.

The meetings with the Sami community offers an opportunity for spreading knowledge about Sami language and culture and these first meeting will hopefully lead to further and deeper collaborations with the communities both in Norway, Finland, Sweden and Russia.

The project is organised with Ingrid Valan and Luba Kuzovnikova at Pikene på  Broen. It is a collaboration with Curatorial mutiny and supported by Stockholm stad, The Swedish Arts Council and the Nordic Culture Fund. Photo by Michael Miller (projection from Justin Bennett’s ‘Vilgiskoddeoayvinyarvi ).