Arctic Arts Festival 2018 program

Festival director Maria Utsi presents the program for the 54th Arctic Arts Festival. With recent years' focus on large global and Arctic questions, this program's direction is towards the people living in the North. In a time where algorythms control our reality and we live in our own echo chambres, it has never been more important to communicate with each other. The festival program for 2018 is filled with debates, workshops, conversations and seminars where the audience is invited to participate.


- Art is popcorn for the brain, and in its' finest moments it creates new perspectives and lets us see what otherwise is hidden. It pushes us to listen to those we disagree with and meet our own doubts. Art makes us sharper and generous, and it makes us talk, says the festival director.

Verdde Sessions

The Arctic Arts Festival continues to refine its most important task: stimulating to innovation and new collaborations in the North, and in 2018 we present 20 premieres in music and the performing arts. inspired by the old Sami system of exchanging goods and services between the coastal population and the Sami reindeer herders, we continue to actively stimulate new partnerships and constellations in the art world - across artistic expression and genre, we call it Verdde Sessions. The first collaboration this year is Verdde Sessions: The Fjords & Sóley, where we expect the collaboration between the Norwegian indie- and electronica band The Fjords and the Icelandic star Sóley will result in exciting new indietronic. In Verdde Sessions: Sastrugi, Erlend Viken takes a starting point in the piece Sastrugi and is joined by internationally acclaimed jazz star Ellen Andrea Wang and the Finnish multiinstrumentalist Maija Kauhanen in developing the piece musically. On the last day of this years' festival, we present a unique night of innovative music across genres with Verdde Sessions: North Of. Here the creative collective North Of brings in total 14 musicians to the stage, producers, slam poets and video artists on three stages  and in two rounds in the concert arena Nordic Hall. 

Commissioned works

The Arctic Arts Festival presents in 2018 three large commisioned music productions: Solnatt – Beaiveidja3 x Bremnes: Eternitt og RO/URO3xBremnes: Eternitt by and with the siblings Bremnes was almost sold out before Christmas, we are happy to present an extra concert the following day. In the project Solnatt – Beaiveidja, 17 completely new lullabies for children in the midnight sun has been written by some of the finest artists across the North. The record is released with a live concert on our main stage Storsalen in collaboration with the Arctic Philharmonica and bands. The acclaimed local artist Marthe Valle presents RO/URO, new music that focuses on the unrest within many people and the mental disorders many experience.

Local and international on the main stage Storsalen

On our main stage, Storsalen, we present both local collaborations and innovative international ensembles. The opening show, AquaSonic, is a spectacular under water concert with the Danish ensemble  Between Music. The day after, the Arctic Philharmonic premieres the classical concert Malstrøm; a grand version for symphony orchestra. The piece is based on the chambre orchestra composition by  Philip Glass, supported by a visual backdrop by Northern artist Martin Losvik. Monday it is finally ready for this year's grand collaboration between amateurs and professionals, a beautiful tribute to and celebration of our mothers in the dance performance PATINA – å eldes med glans. The choreography is made by Arne Fagerholts, and 30 senior ladies from the region participates on stage. The popular Canadian ensemble Collectif9 will break most of the unwritten rules in the classical music landscape when they enter the stage on Tuesday, while the audience favorite Norrdans is back with a powerful dance performance in their tale of Odysseus.

Performing arts from the North

The art scene in the North is full of great projects, and among the many premieres this festival, we are proud to present 6 premieres from the Arctic, coproduced through our new Open Call. The performing arts is an important priority for the Arctic Arts Festival, and this year's performing arts program has 27 performances from all over Europe. The Northern Norwegian premieres this year shows the variety of expressions in the northern performing arts scene. The technological dance performance Sound of Silence, artists Gaute Barlindhaug, Mari Bø and Maria Ulvestad expolores impressions of sounds the body makes, while we are challenged to examine the relationship between man and nature in Second NatureAlvin Pang, one of Endre Lund Eriksen's most famous literary characters, finally goes to the stage with jazz trompetist Tore Johansen, while the great power structures in the relationship between majority and minority is the theme when Siri Broch Johansen presents SOS Dobrie. In the performance Engel, dance art and acrobatics meet in a physical struggle, reflecting the human mind.

Art and academia

Another strong focus in the program this yeas is the meeting between art and academia. Our strategic partner UiT, the Arctic University of Norway, celebrates their 50th anniversary and at the Arctic Arts Festival the celebration manifests itself as several events and performances. This year's Festival Exhibition transforms Galleri Nord-Norge to an artistic laboratory where art and science meets. At Institutt for Natur og Kunst (Institute for Nature and Art) invites the audience to participate in the art processes and conversations. The exhibition gathers 17 artists and scientists, and is one of the largest exhibitions the Arctic Arts Festival has ever presented. The university has also been challenged to push boundaries with a new and completely interactive concept; the ail å pushe grenser med et helt nytt og interaktivt konsept: Den akademiske konklave (the academic conclave)

- Is it possible to stimulate academics from completely different fields to agree on common solutions for the Arctic of the future? If the premise is that nobody gets out until a solution is reached?  Can the art field contribute with new perspectives when it seems like there are no solutions? Nobody knows the result of this, and it will be particularly interesting to see if the arts can contribute with new perspectives, says Utsi.

Festival profile: Joar Nango

This years' Festival profile, Joar Nango, challenges the boundaries of the arts when he in his main project looks at Sámi architecture in a contemporary perspective. As part of this project, Nango will initiate the establishment of Sámi Arkiteakta Searvi (SAS), the first Sámi architecture association. One of the initiatives in the project will be to establish a small, mobile structure that can accommodate conversations on Sámi community development and architecture. 

– It is amazing to present Joar Nango as our Festival profile. He is one of the most distinctive and alternative thinking artists in the Arctic today, and one of Northern Norway's most recognised artists internationally, says Utsi.

New music from the North

The bar Karma will also in 2018 be the arena for new music, and the lineup includes a broad range of genres and expressions: Resirkulert, energic and great-sounding Northern Norwegian poprock band  from the North, Tromsø based singer-songwriter Lisa Skoglund is one to look out for - with her flair and uncompromising pop songs. The Americanaband Hollow Hearts has received amazing reviews on their live shows, while Lyse Netter from the Lofoten islands presents characteristic Lofot-sound and dance friendly poprock. We are particularly proud to present the Greenland hip hop arist Taatsi, with heavy beats and important message. The Northern Norwegian doomband Heave Blood and Die takes care of boredom for good, with an extreme contrast to the heavy-hitting and political electrofunk from Swedish The Magnettes. Also, our own Arctic superstar SlinCraze, presents his life story in his Sámi rap poetry.

The range of concerts at Karma is wonderful and shows just how diverse and high quality the new music from the North has, says Utsi.

The Arctic Arts Festival for children

The program has a wide selection of performances and shows for children of all ages, from babies to teenagers. There are also several workshops and the daily children's park SNN-parken is the home for Third Hand Group and their concept Closetland

- As a result of the collaboration with Sparebank1 Nord-Norge, children under 12 years can access all shows and performances for free, explains Utsi.