niilas helander – No Demands

18th February–3rd April 2022
Please join us for the opening on Friday 18th February 7–9pm.

Kunsthall Oslo is very pleased to present the first solo exhibition by niilas helander, a Sami artist currently living in Athens.

“Our people would have settled if they had been given the right to do so, but they have throughout the times lived in a state of exception, or in other words – they have been placed outside the law, beyond the bounds of public rights.”
– Elsa Laula Renberg, Before life and death: Words of truth about the conditions of Lapland

“Haunting … is the relentless remembering and reminding that will not be appeased by settler society’s assurances of innocence and reconciliation. Haunting is both acute and general; individuals are haunted, but so are societies.”
– Eve Tuck and C. Ree, A Glossary of Haunting

“What, then, is photography? Photography is an event. What kind of event is photography? It is clearly not possible to describe it as a kind of interruption of, or deviation from, existing flows, which brings something new into being. The event of photography is subject to a unique form of temporality – it is made up of an infinite series of encounters.”
– Ariella Azoulay, Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography

“We can no longer afford to take that which was good in the past and simply call it our heritage, to discard the bad and simply think of it as a dead load which by itself time will bury in oblivion. The subterranean stream of Western history has finally come to the surface and usurped the dignity of our tradition. This is the reality in which we live. And this is why all efforts to escape, from the grimness of the present into nostalgia for a still intact past, or into the anticipated oblivion of a better future, are vain.”
– Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

helander is a poet, artist and writer whose work is concerned with history, cultural memory, politics and representation, particularly in the context of issues around land and language, migration and decolonial struggles. For No Demands he will present photographs, text, sculpture, wall painting and a recording of the song of the Regent honeyeater. The exhibition also includes the video work Mouth to Mouth by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha and a recorded poetry reading STOOL IKKE PÅ NOGEN (Don’t trust anyone) by poet Yahya Hassan.

The exhibition is accompanied by the publication Nomadtekst – edited by helander and Maja Hammarén with texts by helander, Amiri Baraka, Essex Hemphill, Britt Kramvig, Audre Lorde, Diane di Prima and Mary Ailonieida Sombán Mari.

A reader with additional texts and links compiled  by the artist is available here.

helander will also hold a poetry writing workshop, Writing From Place, on Wednesday 23rd February 5–8pm at Kunsthall Oslo. The workshop will be free and open to all.

No Demands and Nomad Text are supported by Arts Council Norway and Fritt Ord. Thanks to Kim André Hagen, Allan Klo and Politiken.