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How Carola Grahn Inserts Sámi Worldviews into the Arts Landscape

Sep 07, 2023
by IAQ

Carola Grahn is a contemporary multimedia artist, writer and curator of South Sámi descent. Raised in Jokkmokk, Sweden, Grahn received her Master of Fine Arts degree in 2013 from Sweden’s Royal Institute of Art and currently lives and works between Malmö, Sweden, and New York, NY.

With a conceptual proclivity, Grahn’s work combines photography, text, sculpture and sound in site-specific installations to question structures of power, politics and identity. On a more personal level, she is interested in perceptions of nature, social roles and our relationships, Grahn’s Sámi heritage being a central impetus and part of her practice. The affective pieces Grahn creates bring awareness to the effects of colonization on Sámi communities. In works such as Look Who’s Talking (2016) and the series Notes on Hide (2017–20), Grahn complicates these narratives by inserting Indigenous culture and politics into the arts landscape. Much of her work uses materials such as wood, animal hides and fabric, each piece telling its own story and drawing connections between people and nature.

Writing is another important element of Grahn’s practice. Her writing on Sámi art and culture has been published in Afterall, she has been a guest editor for Hjärnstorm and published a novel titled Lo & Professorn (2013). Grahn has presented her work in the solo exhibition I Have Scrutinized Every Stone and Log on the Southwest Side of the Mountain (2020), and has shown work internationally in group exhibitions that include: Come Back as a Flower (2021–22), Friendship. Nature. Culture (2021–22), and Among All These Tundras (2018, 2019 and 2021). A versatile and collaborative artist, Grahn is also one of the founders of the Sámi Girl Gang, along with Silje Figenschou Toresen. 

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