18 days left until the exhibition! Here is our second interview with Britta Marakatt-Labba about the concept of moving in the Sami culture and the lifespan of those materials that are needed to build a goahti.
The technique that you tend to work with the most is embroidery with fine yarns. In this exhibition you’ve created a spatial installation that consists of several different parts, where embroidery is included, amongst other things. Can you say something about the different parts of the work and your choice of material and technique?
I have chosen to work with the Sami goahti, a form of shelter that it easy to transport. When living in a goahti you barely leave traces or wounds in nature, only the árran (hearth) and its stones remain to show that people have once lived there. It can be compared to the foundation that remains after you move a house. For me it has come naturally to work with materials such as stone, wood and textiles, since all these materials exist in the way of living and moving with a goahti. Things that are made of wood go back to nature eventually. Textiles also have their own lifespan: curtains left hanging in an abandoned house will eventually fade and fall apart.
For me the door to a goahti is very symbolic – the outward face that shows who lives inside. I have chosen to embroider on the inside of my door, which should reflect what kind of person it is that has sewn the door itself. Door rods hold the door in place, hearthstones have received various place names to show in which direction the people move – where will one pitch up next? Kiruna’s move has, as we all know, been discussed to death. The big question has been if the city should move east or west. How beneficial are the winds and the weather if you move to the west? We Sami have the same discussions when we chose a place to live… The direction of the winds has influenced the placement of the goahti door. Situating the entrance to the dwelling has been important.
Your work alludes to the myriad ways in the Sami experience in which moving is part of the pattern of life. Can you say something about what the concept of moving means to you?
As someone who has had the privilege of living in a goahti, moving has meant easily being able to pack up your few possessions and go. Just as naturally as you come to a place, you also move from there: first the fire is set up, then you set up the tent poles and put the cloth around the bars, the door is usually facing the south – the wind from the north is cold. It is also important to make sure that the location one chooses offers peace and quiet. One also ensures that the site has good access to water and plenty of firewood. It should be a place to inhabit and to live in harmony with nature.
Coming up: Boris Sieverts’ thoughts on the act of walking as a research methodology, his guidebook and Kiruna’s lack of a spatial and urban complexity…
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