Festival Exhibition 2017: Subsistence


Subsistence, Arctic Arts Festival
Jérémie McGowan, Maria Utsi og Julie Decker presenterer Subsistence. Photo: Øyvind Arvola, ht.no

The Arctic Arts Festival will focus on the locals of the North in the annual Festival Exhibition, and has asked the director of Northern Norway Art Museum, Jérémie Michael McGowan, and director of Anchorage Museum, Julie Decker, to curate the exhibition.

The project comprises a collection of interventions, discussions and visual narratives that highlight the complexity of Arctic communities – contemporary places and cultural spaces at the centre of global attention, where the inside and outside perspectives are dependent upon one another. By taking “subsistence” as its framework for inquiry and reflection, the project examines the extent to which Arctic places are at risk of being a consumer product– and what the consequences of that scenario would be.

Important cooperation

There are great expectations to this unique cooperation with Northern Norway Arts Museum and Anchorage Museum.  

- It is particularly important for us to host this international exhibition with a circumpolar focus and a great collaboration with other strong northern institutions such as Northern Norway Arts Museum and Anchorage Museum. The Arctic Arts Festival has an ambition to initiate cooperation throughout the regional and international culture and art institutions, and thus make room for new ideas and innovative projects, says Maria Utsi, director of the Arctic Arts Festival.

In the coming months the curators will cooperate with artists, architects and designers to create a unique experience of the stories of the North in Gallery Northern Norway in Harstad.

- It is important to be invited to this kind of collaboration. As a regional arts institution, Northern Norway Art Museum has an ambition to have a distinct profile within contemporary art, and make art a driving force for the development of the Arctic. The goal in this project is that we will create an environment beyond art on the walls, that it will be more than a traditional exhibition, says Jérémie McGowan, director of Northern Norway Art Museum.

A story from the North

The interest of the human aspect of the Arctic is a shared interest across the circumpolar North, and the exhibition will present art from a range of artists. By taking “subsistence” as its framework for inquiry and reflection, the project examines the extent to which Arctic places are at risk of being a consumer product that is exhaustible – and what the meaning and implications of that endpoint might entail.

- In the North, the reliance of nature and the environment is a determining factor of subsistence, but the project will not romanticize the reality of survival, but rather convey the complexity of these dimensions.  There is a growing interest and popularity of the North and in the centre of major policy decisions, and that makes it even more important to get the human perspective and voice into consideration. It is crucial that we learn to tell our own story and take ownership to it, explains Julie Decker, director of Anchorage Museum.

- This project reflects the core values of the Arctic Arts Festival, putting the human perspective in the centre of the story of the North and reflecting more than nature and environmental issues. It is fascinating that we share this vision across the Arctic, continues Utsi.

”Subsistence” will result in an exhibition of contemporary art from the circumpolar area, and will be the official festival exhibition of the Arctic Arts Festival in 2017.

Julie Decker, director Anchorage Museum

Julie Decker has been the director of Anchorage Museum since 2014. Decker has curated numerous major exhibitions at the Anchorage Museum. She previously owned and ran Decker/Morris Gallery in Anchorage and was an instructor for the University of Alaska. She has served on the boards of several non-profit organizations. She holds a Ph.D. in contemporary art history, criticism and management from Union Institute and University and a master’s degree in arts administration from Golden Gate University. Her work as an artist has been featured in numerous solo exhibitions throughout Alaska and is in the Anchorage Museum collection.

Jérémie McGowan, director Northern Norway Art Museum

Jérémie McGowan from North Caroline, USA, is the director of the Northern Norway Art Museum. McGowan’s background includes being associate professor at the Architecture and Design School of Oslo and a curator at the National Museum of art, architecture and design. McGowan holds a Ph.D. in art history and theory from the University of Edinburgh. He also has a design background from his bachelor at North Caroline State University, and has in the period 2007 – 2010 participated with his own work in several exhibitions in Scotland, Finland and USA.