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  • Jan 02, 2013

"Eight Seasons in Sápmi, the Land of the Sámi People" Opens January 26 at the American Swedish Institute

MINNEAPOLIS — January 2, 2013 — “Eight Seasons in Sápmi, the Land of the Sámi People,” an exhibit originating in far northern Sweden—above the Arctic Circle—opens January 26 at the American Swedish Institute. Visitors will be introduced to the geography, terrain and cultural expressions of Europe’s northernmost reaches and the Sámi, its indigenous people, through handcraft, artifacts and photographs. “Eight Seasons” will be on display at the American Swedish Institute January 26 through May 26, 2013. Entrance to the exhibit is included with museum admission: $7 adults, $6 ages 62+, $4 ages 6–18 and full-time students with ID, free for ages 5 and under and ASI members. The American Swedish Institute is located at 2600 Park Avenue S. in Minneapolis. For more information, visit www.ASImn.org or call 612-871-4907.

The Sámi are a living, expressive people whose nation spans Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, defined by a common past, traditional crafts, and historically nomadic, herding practices. They are renowned for their reindeer herding, their exquisite crafts, and the 400 year old Winter Market in Jokkmokk, Sweden.

“Eight Seasons in Sápmi, the Land of the Sámi People” presents 40 of Danish-born Birgittee Aarestrup’s photographs, in both black and white and color, chronicling her journeys throughout Sápmi. Aarestrup’s work provides a rare and evocative window into the Sámi landscape and lifeways. She depicts a land of contrasts: of light and dark, of ancient culture and modern technology. A cold climate warmed by the humans inhabiting it. The photographs, on view in the Turnblad Mansion’s Benson Gallery, will be complemented with selections from Aarestrup’s book, “Eight Seasons Above the Arctic Circle: The Sámi of Lapland” to give a sense of her journeys throughout Sápmi. Visitors will learn how the reindeer is both the center and source for much of the Sámi world and how the Sámi are a thoroughly modern and highly organized people. 

On display in the Turnblad Mansion’s second floor galleries will be traditional and contemporary cultural expressions of the Sámi people—examples of the functional and beautiful objects they use and create. Museum visitors will learn how the Sámi retrieve and nurture a bounty of materials, creating distinctive textiles and garments, jewelry and ornamental wear, musical instruments and household wares from a harsh and barren environment. The artifacts and handcraft in the exhibit come from the collections of Ájtte, the Swedish Mountain and Sami Museum and Sámi Duodji, the official association for Sámi craft in Jokkmokk, Sweden. ASI’s exhibition and related series of programs will also speak to the Sámi’s endurance and advocacy for themselves in the 21st century.

“Eight Seasons in Sápmi, the Land of the Sámi People” was developed by three partners: Ájtte, the Swedish Mountain and Sami Museum; Sámi Duodji, the official association for Sámi craft in Sweden; and Danish-born photographer Birgitte Aarestrup. Exhibit sponsors include Jokkmokk Municipality, County Administrative Board of Norrbotten, and the Swedish Arts Council.

An exhibit opening talk and reception will be held on Friday, Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. Photographer Birgitte Aarestrup will give a talk about her photography and her experiences with the Sámi. Following the talk, ASI will host a reception with light hors d’oeuvres, and there will be a cash bar available. Aarestrup has lived with the reindeer herders, listened to their stories over the fire in their birch kåta, met with Sámi arts and crafts people and traveled to their 400 year old Winter Market. With her photographic work, she wanted to preserve the culture and to draw attention to this indigenous group of people. Aarestrup has worked as a photographer for more than 30 years. Her tools are traditional Hasselblad and Nikon cameras, film, and natural light. Born in Denmark, she currently resides in both California and Sweden. The talk and reception costs $15 ($12 ASI members), and reservations are strongly encouraged—612-871-4907.

The American Swedish Institute (ASI) is a vibrant arts and culture organization and historic home located at 2600 Park Avenue near downtown Minneapolis. ASI attracts more than 65,000 people each year for tours of the landmark 1908 Turnblad Mansion, exhibits, classes and events that connect the community to contemporary Nordic culture and cultural heritage. Founded in 1929 by Swedish immigrant newspaper publisher Swan J. Turnblad, ASI now serves as a gathering place for people to share stories and experiences around universal themes of tradition, migration, craft and the arts, all informed by enduring ties to Sweden. Museum hours: Tue., Thu., Fri., Sun. 12–5 p.m., Wed. 12–8 p.m., and Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Museum admission: $7, $6 ages 62+, $4 ages 6-18 and students with ID. For more information, visit ASImn.org.

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