Hacking Objects of Desire
Exhibition Dates: September 6 – October 19
Reception: Saturday, September 6 • 3-5pm • Curator talk with Kade Twist at 4pm
In Hacking Objects of Desire Sámi artists, Joar Nango, Silje Figenschou Thoresen, and Sigbjørn Skåden incorporate indigenous design traditions and pragmatism into contemporary artwork. The exhibition of photographs, sculpture, and video draw from a previous collaborative project, Indigenuity, which presented a detailed survey of the Sámi worldview and resilience expressed through do-it-yourself ethos, creative knowledge, invention and improvisation.
The Sámi people are the indigenous people of Scandinavia, who live in the Arctic area of Sápmi, which encompasses far northern regions of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia.
The exhibition takes on new context—particularly when located so close to national and international policy makers in the Northern Virginia and greater Washington, D.C. area—as a critical statement about globalism, consumerism, and commercialism.
Curatorial Statement by Kade Twist
In Hacking Objects of Desire, Sámi artists Joar Nango, Silje Figenschou Thoresen and Sigbjørn Skåden investigate Sámi design traditions and indigenous pragmatism through contemporary processes of hacking and re-appropriating everyday consumer objects. This exhibition of photographs, sculpture, video, sound and postcards are the result of the artists’ collaborative project titled Indigenuity, which involved extensive field research, interviews, sketches and photo documentation of found material and objects that form a detailed survey of Sámi worldview and resilience expressed through do-it-yourself ethos, creative knowledge, invention and improvisation. In Hacking Objects of Desire, the artists respond to Sámi processes of reimagining the aesthetics and functionality of consumer objects to better reflect Sámi worldview and the experiential realities of local geographies and contexts — effectively transforming appendages of globalization and neoliberalism into vehicles of self-determination. The exhibition repositions and recontextualizes their Indigenuity archive for the Target Gallery — and the broader community of national and international policy makers that surround the gallery — as a means of imposing principles of indigenous design as a means resistance against the deepening violence of globalism. Collectively, the work provides a powerful narrative of Sámi self-determination that inverts the designed power dynamics of consumer products that subject consumers to the logic and intentionality of the object and the globalist will of multinational corporations and consenting social and economic policymakers of Western nations. In this regard, the works in this exhibition pose a few fundamental questions for all of us: What happens when worldviews that advance embedded obsolescence collide with worldviews that advance interconnectedness? What happens when indigenous peoples engage foreign technologies, mediums and objects that have outlived their intended purpose, or have an intended purpose that oppose their social, cultural and spiritual epistemologies? Are the most revolutionary and sustainable interventions against consumerism found within processes of reimagining and hacking objects of subjection? Perhaps, in this world of an ever-expanding market integration and monetization, there is much for the Western imagination to learn from Sámi and other Indigenous peoples.
Joar Nango has a degree from NTNU in Norway. He is a founding member of the architectural collective FFB which works with temporary architecture in urban contexts. Nango’s works explore the boundary between architecture, design and visual art. He relates to questions of indigenous identity, often through investigating the oppositions and contradictions in contemporary architecture. He has worked on the theme The Modern Sámi Space through, amongst other things, a self-published zine series entitled Sámi Huksendáidda: the Fanzine, design project Sámi Shelters and the mixtape/clothing project Land & Language.
His projects have taken him to different places in the Sápmi where he made detailed studies of Sámi architecture. Joar Nango has been an artist-in-residence at Lásságámmi in Storfjord, Ivar Jåks Residency at Sami Artist Centre, Nordic Artists Centre in Dale. Joar Nango lives and works in Tromsø, Norway.
Silje Figenschou Thoresen lives in Kirkenes, Norway, and Stockholm. Her work is based in the culture’s pragmatic approach to material and design. A non-hierarchical attitude towards material and the strive for flexibility put established design values into question and form an ideology of recycling and long-term perspectives on the needs and possibilities of everyday life. In contemporary society this also represents a political comment to the increasing consumerism. Thoresen also brings a sensitivity to the material and an ability to view the individual object from an unexpected perspective. In her art she transfers a mainly practical understanding into aesthetics and handle other aspects—direction, color, texture—with the same kind of sensitivity.
Sigbjørn Skåden (b. 1976) is a Sámi writer and translator who made his debut in 2004 with the epic poem Skuovvadeddjiid gonagas (The King of Shoemakers). After the debut he has written one more book of poetry, one novel, one children’s book and numerous texts for stage and conceptual performances. He writes in the native Sámi language. Among other things he was named young artist of the year at Riddu Riđđu indigenous festival in 2005, he was nominated to the Nordic Council’s Literature Award, the most prestigious literary award in the Nordic countries, in 2007, and was a key speaker at the indigenous forum at the World’s largest poetry festival in Medellín, Colombia, in 2012.
Kade Twist is a multi-disciplinary artist working with video, installation, sound, text and two-dimensional media. Mr. Twist’s work embeds Indigenous postcolonial narratives within a contemporary landscape of American popular culture and consumerism. Twist’s new series of two-dimensional work, The First Syntax Rebellion, is available at Chiaroscuro Contemporary Art. His mixed-media installation, Just As I Am, was recently accessioned into the Arizona State University Art Museum’s permanent collection. Twist’s multi-media installation work is currently featured in Remix: New Modernities in a Post-Indian World at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian. He is one of the co-founders of Postcommodity, a contemporary American Indian artist collective working to advance postcolonial Indigenous discourse through collaborative, interdisciplinary, transborder actions. Twist received the 2007 Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas First Book Award for his poetry manuscript, Amazing Grace. Twist graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a BA in American Indian studies, with an emphasis on tribal policy and economic development. Twist has worked in Washington DC as a tribal telecommunications policy analyst for the Benton Foundation and the Native Networking Policy Center. He is currently a member of the Federal Communications Commission Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age. Twist is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.
This exhibition is supported, in part, by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington.
Target Gallery is the contemporary national and international exhibition space for the Torpedo Factory Art Center. The gallery hosts nine exhibitions annually–some juried, some curated–featuring a variety of themes, artists and media.