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  • Rolf Terje

Arctic arts festival & northern identity

The Arctic arts festival of Norway is an annual event in Harstad, held the last week of June. It all began as an alternative to a local jazz festival in a neighboring town, and has developed into a international powerhouse of the performing arts.

In this years festival, the more political side of the cultural expression came to light. Focusing on arctic identity and the specific nature of the northernmost inhabitants of the world.

With strong ties to the sami, inuit, lapp and eskimo cultures, this festival strives to make the true arctic voice and expression heard.

And this year, they succeeded in making us think about ourselves.

Not as subjects of society, a populace of our given nations or as individuals.

But as arctic dwellers.

The idea that arctic dwellers have shared similar conditions through the evolution of their culture, is not that far fetched. And when "The Jerry Cans" entered the stage in Harstad, the evidence of this theory was presented.

The Jerry Cans

With their combination of folk, rock and inuit throat-singing, not to mention a healthy appetite for seal and whale meat, they surprised everyone in attendance with their energetic familiarity.

The examples of underlying cultural similarities in all arctic dwellers, became more apparent as the festival progressed. With every artist, performance, workshop or installation, the belief that you were witnessing something meaningful continuously implemented itself in our subconscious.

If a festival was ever able to instill mindfulness, a sense of self in its patrons; this last week in June 2017 did just that for arctic culture and northern identity.

Can't wait for next years Arctic arts festival, and will recommend it to anyone interested in cultural understanding and exchange.

Rolf Terje

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