By Siri Broch Johansen

Bivttas/Now you see me, now you don’t

Siri Broch Johansen in collaboration with Fanny Bjørn, Kristin Tvare, Katja Ravdna Broch Pedersen and Maria Karlsen.

Daily we experience how clothing determines how we are perceived. Is this “The Colonial Gaze”? As “people of color with white skin”, we are invisible when we wear Western clothes. We can be a part of the society without experiencing racism. We can hide, disappear and fit in. This is a double-edged sword. The comfortable feeling of being «normal» has led to desertion from the Sami community. The result is a large Sami population no one sees. We are like wandering ghosts. When we dress up in our traditional clothing, we become visible to both our surroundings and ourselves. 

In collaboration with a group of young artists, I have investigated different aspects of clothing. We have investigated how wearing Sami clothes in some places, sometimes, makes you “a little less human”. Racism in the Norwegian society is concealed – like many Sami people are. It is also omnipresent – like us. It is perceived provoking that we, who can hide in a white Norwegian identity, choose not to. Dressing into a Sami identity can mean dressing into nudity. Are our clothes our second skin? Do I have to choose to be either «human» or «Sami» – or can I be both – at the same time?

In addition, I have attended a seminar/sewing class with the Sami artist Outi Pieski. There, I experienced how taking back a Sami garment that went out of use hundred years ago, contributes to profound healing of wounds colonialism has inflicted upon me. The actual design and making of the garment, and then putting it into use, has had a profound impact. Do we have to sew our own clothes, like I did, to get maximum decolonizing benefit from them? What does it do to us to choose the position «a little less human», if that is what dressing up in sámi garments do to us? The last question is also a nod to the play «Human Zoo» by Kathrine Nedrejord, toured by BSNT at the same time as the Ibsen Awards Festival.

In collaboration with Dramatikkens Hus and Ibsen Awards.
Curated and directed by Kai Johnsen.