Elina Waage Mikalsen

Borealis Artist in Residence

Sea Sámi and Norwegian artist and musician Elina Waage Mikalsen is our Artist in Residence between 2022–2024. Supported by the festival, Elina is developing a research, engagement and performance programme that explores the interaction of Sámi history, identity and erasure with experimental sound, music and listening practices. Asking the question “What is Sámi sonic experimentalism?” together we will explore who defines experimentalism, who is listening and how, and what frames define how we take part in listening? Far from building a definitive answer to these research questions, as a young Sámi woman with roots in Norway too, Elina will lead the discussion from her viewpoint and work collaboratively to invite different voices into our discussions, curation and audience engagement. Inspired by the legacy of the seminal Sámi artist, poet and musician Nils-Aslak Valkeapää / Áillohaš, Elina has begun mapping the different possibilities of sonic experimentation across Sápmi and will draw inspiration from global indigenous performance, listening and organising traditions.

If this is your first encounter with Sámi culture, we’ve made a list to familiarise you with some basics.

Šuvva – workshopping Sámi Experimental Music, Sonic Practices, and Listening in Tromsø 19 & 20 October 2023

Šuvva is a gathering that aims to bring together the Sámi community of performing artists with an interest in sound and music from the in-between spaces.

What: Two days of workshopping Sámi experimental music, sound art, and listening
When: Thursday 19 & Friday 20 October, daytime (Time TBA)
Where: Small Projects, Tromsø (Grønnegata 23)
Who: Sámi artists and musicians working with and interested in Sámi experimental music and sound art Languages: Norwegian, English, and Sámi
Price: Free of charge

On October 19 and 20, we will come together to get to know each other, present our practices, listen to music, and discuss how we relate to sound in different ways. What is a Sámi way of listening? How can we work experimentally in a Sámi context? Are there similarities between how Sámi culture engages with sound and how other indigenous cultures do it? We have a rich history of sound to look back on, from Aillohaš’ field recordings and music to Bongo-laika, Mari Boine’s vocal techniques, and Jon Persen’s compositions. By creating a platform where we can meet, we aim to empower Sámi artists who continue this work in various ways. The programme will consist of presentations where all participants can introduce themselves and their work, listening sessions, discussions, and shared lunch.

Šuvva in Tromsø is part of Elina Waage Mikalsen’s guest artist project with Borealis.
Questions about this gathering? Get in touch with: miajulie@borealisfestival.no

Elina at Borealis 2023

For Borealis 2023, Elina presented a day of live performances, food and discussions exploring Sámi experimental music, sound, culture and listening practice in Østre in Bergen. She also presented the sound piece Rođu Govkkit/Glenner i Vier in the very special listening goáhti on top of Mount Fløyen. Read on for more…

The sounds from in between – a talkshow collage
Saturday 18 March 2023, 11.00–14.00, Østre

The sounds from in between – a talkshow collage took place Saturday of the festival in Østre in Bergen and reflected around what Sámi and indigenous experimental music, sonic practices and listening is, and how to approach it. In a relaxed atmosphere Elina acted as the talkshow host and led the audience through musical archive material from Sápmi, a conversation via Zoom with Oglala Lakota performance artist, visual artist, composer and researcher Susanne Kite and groundbreaking live sets and conversations with Sámi artists Viktor Bomstad and Katarina Barruk. A delicious stew was provided by local foodies Hallaisen , and the Sámi bread gáhkku was made by Britt Waag from the Bergen Sámi Association.

Photo: Johanne Karlsrud/Borealis

Rođu Govkkit/Glenner i Vier in Jiennagoahti
Wed 15–Sun 19 March 2023, Mount Fløyen

Built from wood, and covered in turf, a goáhti is a traditional Sámi home construction. The Jiennagoahti (Listening goáhti) was the 2023 festival’s most unique listening space. High up on Mount Fløyen surrounding the city of Bergen Jiennagoahti is an artwork dedicated to listening – an outdoor and indoor space for the dissemination and learning of indigenous Sámi culture, architecture and language as well as ecology for residents of all ages. The project was initiated by artist Elin Már Øyen Vister in dialogue with Sámi architect and artist Joar Nango. For the festival Jiennagoahti hosted a sound work by Elina. Rođu Govkkit/Glenner i Vier, is a work built on field recordings and voice, exploring our relations with the world we see, and the world we don’t – exploring how nature opens her secrets and forgotten places, if we just listen.

Listen to Rođu Govkkit/Glenner i Vier on Bandcamp

Photo: Stills by Ben Speck/Borealis

Radio programmes with Elina

Press on the project and Elina

The Wire Magazine: On Location – Borealis
Issue 472, June 2023

Seismograf: Erfaringer, ikke værker – Borealis 2023
Jan Topolski, 15.05.2023

Morgenbladet: Et sjeldent arkitektonisk kunstverk: Som å bade i skogens atmosfære
Justine Nguyen, 05.05.2023

The New York Times: For This Experimental Festival, Bring Your Swimsuit and Dancing Shoes
Jennifer Gersten, 22.03.2023

Bergens Tidende: Dette var den raskeste halvtimen i mitt liv (anmeldelse: 5/6)
Renate Synnes Handal, 24.03.2023

Studvest: Borealis er for deg som vil utfordre deg selv – og for kultureliten
Lone Sivertsen Devik, 22.03.2023 (nett) 

Avvir: Eksperimentála talkshow Bergenis
Nils Gjerstad, 18.03.2023

Bergensavisen: Det mystiske lytterommet
Johanne Hoel, 17.03.2023

Klassekampen: Lytting som tidsmaskin
Frida Fliflet, 17.03.2023

Ballade.no: Historia vår er ein vev fulle av hol
Read the interview with Elina Waage Mikalsen in Norwegian
Read the interview with Elina in Samí
Siri Storheim, 27.02.2023

Plans ahead for the project

MAY 2023

  • Conversation with indigenous artists and organisers
  • Working session with the Borealis administration, site visits in Bergen

JUNE 2023

  • Field trip to Tromsø
  • Conversations with indigenous artists and organisers


  • Travel with Katarina Barruk to Ume Sámi area in Sápmi/Sweden


  • Sámi Experimental symposium hosted by Elina in Romsa/Tromsø

MARCH 2024

  • Elina presents her new commissioned work at Borealis 2024
  • Extensive experimental Sámi programme co-curated by Borealis and Elina for Borealis 2024

Follow the project on Instagram

Further listening on Elina’s Soundcloud or Bandcamp