Outi Pieski: Rematriation of a Ládjogahpir—Return to Máttaráhkká 

9 feb3 apr 2022

Rematriation of a Ládjogahpir—Return to Máttaráhkká
Ládjogahpir rematriašuvdna—Máhccat eatni lusa

The Finnish-Sami artist Outi Pieski has been acknowledged for her works that converse tenderly with Sami culture and identity. In paintings and large-scale installations, she explores themes of Sami history and future, indigenous people’s rights and sustainable development. Pieski’s works have close ties with Nordic nature, and she sees art as a tool for relating to, and recovering from, the forced assimilation of the Sami people.

In several of her works, Pieski references the Sami craft of duodji, with materials such as wood, silver, and textiles. Duodji was marginalised in the wake of colonisation, but the tradition still has a strong hold: “Duodji is a collective way of making. It is our connection to each other, to past and future generations, and to nature. For me, duodji is radical softness dealing with vulnerability, sincerity, sensibility and communality.”

— Outi Pieski

The exhibition at Bonniers Konsthall consists of two parts which are both related to the collective way of making. When entering the library at Bonniers Konsthall visitors are met by Beavvit II / Rising Together II (2021). A textile installation inspired by the gathering of good friends dressed in the traditional Sami costume gákti. While the main installation is based on the traditional Sami horn headgear, ládjogahpir, which Pieski is relating to the history of Sami women. Her installations are often based on a collective practice involving collaborations with other artists, researchers, and activists. Paintings, photographs and other graphic elements in the installation builds on an extensive study of the object, carried out by Outi Pieski and the researcher Eeva Kristiina Nylander (formerly Harlin). The story highlighted by the headgear involves a colonialist metamorphosis. The headgear was banned by the colonialists and forced to change its shape, a parallel to the forced transformation of society into a more patriarchal culture that reduced women’s status. Today, the ládjogahpir symbolises the fight for Sami women’s emancipation from colonial and patriarchal inequality.

“As the ládjogahpir is being made and worn again, it will embrace and harbour new meanings. The ládjogahpir today may be regarded as a symbol of a new decolonial feminism, forwarding a message from our foremothers who live beside us. There is something utterly unique and powerful when Sami women today wear this hat. The revitalisation of the ládjogahpir is a step towards decolonization.”

— Outi Pieski and Eeva-Kristiina Nylander.


Outi Pieski (b. 1973) lives and works in Ohcejohka (Utsjoki) and Numminen, Finland. Since graduating from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki (2000), she has exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London, UK (2017), EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Finland (2018), the Sami Center for Contemporary Art, Karasjok, Norway (2019), and Norwegian Sculptors Sociaty, Oslo (2021). Pieski has also been presented at biennials such as the Venice Biennale 2019, where she as a member of The Miracle Workers Collective (MWC) was part of an exhibition at the Finnish Alvar Aalto pavilion. At the 13th Gwangju Biennale (2021), Pieski presented an installation co-produced by Bonniers Konsthall. Pieski was  also part of the inaugural Helsinki Biennale (2021), where she collaborated with her daughters Birit and Katja Haarla in their first joint artistic collaboration. Pieski also works with public art, as the new entrance to Nordiska museet that was unveiled in Stockholm in 2020. Outi Pieski is one of the curators to the exhibition Mäccmõš, maccâm, máhccan, about the repatriation of collections of Sami artefacts to the Sami museum Siida in Inari, Finland. The process and the objects were featured at the National Museum of Finland in 2021. Pieski has received several awards, including the Finnish Acadamy of Fine Arts award in 2017, and the Finnish Cultural Foundation’s Grand Prize for the promotion of outstanding cultural endeavours (2020). Pieski is represented in collections such as the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Sámi Parliament of Norway/Samí Art Collection, National Museum in Norway, and Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

This exhibition has been produced with support from Frame Contemporary Art Finland. We are grateful to Nordiska museet for generously lending us two ládjogahpirs for the exhibition

Outi Pieski’s exhibition is a co-production by Bonniers Konsthall and the 13th Gwangju Biennale.

Image: Jean-Baptiste Béranger.