Art VAPO – True North

The Art VAPO project is an art-based investigation into «What North is». Using the term Nordicity (nothernness) coined by the Canadian geographer Louis-Edmond Hamelin, we will explore the concept of Nordicity in artistic expressions in and through music and performance. The project will question and embody different dimensions of the degree of Nordicity in performing arts in circumpolar regions.

Seen from the North Pole, the geographic boundaries for what North is, seems obvious. Still, geographers have been studying the extreme differences in the areas that have the same latitude, and recognised the need to differentiate the «northernness» of the circumpolar territories of the world.

The understanding of what North is, have been established through stories and myths from both the people of the North, visitors, and peoples that have never been here. The director of Festspillene i Nord-Norge, Maria Utsi, asks «Who defines North»?. Through the arts, she wants to challenge the power relations in political discussions about the northern part of the world: «The arts help us illuminate similarities and understand differences. It is an eternal wave that pushes us to rethink our self. Again, and again» (Utsi 2016). In the Art VAPO project we will confront the stereotypies and established opinions of the North through concerts and performance-rallies, and by engaging different audiences to actively take part. A variety of participants will experiment and explore Art Nordicity using humor, sincerity, and satire combined with love and respect for Northern spaces.

The North is an elusive object, also politically, and the definition of North is more important than ever. Global warming explicitly changes the North in some of Hamelins indexed components, such as where there is ice left. The Norwegian government for instance wants to move the Ice-perimeter (Iskanten) further north in order to be able to search for more oil, which makes the discussion of what North is, increasingly important. The objective of this project is therefor also to be a part of the socio-political discussion in and of the North.

The artistic aim of the project is threefold: Firstly, we will investigate the question of what North is in music and performance through concerts, seminars, performances, rallies, lectures, workshops (sandboxes), musical experiments, and commissioned works. Secondly, we will explore the potential for musical expressions and formats to address the socio-political issues of the North. What is the future of the North, and how can we affect its development? Thirdly, we will research new formats of communicating the processes of artistic reflexive work, including video-article-formats and audience-oriented assemblies and rallies.