Artist in Residence: Elina Waage Mikalsen

Photo: Annar Bjørgli/Nasjonalmuseet
Photo: Erik Mowinckel

Sea Sámi and Norwegian artist and musician Elina Waage Mikalsen is our Artist in Residence between 2022–2024. Supported by the festival, Elina will develop 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 begins by mapping the different possibilities of sonic experimentation across Sápmi and will draw inspiration from global indigenous performance, listening and organising traditions.

As the third Borealis’ artist in residency – following on from Marshall Trammell and Jenny Moore – Borealis once again invites an artist in whose work exploratory sound and music and social justice activism intersect, and provides a framework for development and learning for artist, audiences and the festival as an organisation. We’re excited to see where Elina’s research and conversations lead us over the next two years!

The Sámi are recognised as the indigenous people of the Fennoscandian region. On the land of this region, Sápmi, the Sámi people have lived since time immemorial, respectfully harvesting from nature by fishing, farming, hunting and following reindeer, amongst other activities. There are 10 sámi languages spoken across Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.