Artist Sissel Mutuale Bergh describes her latest film, Elmie (2023) — a Southern Sámi word meaning sky, air and storm — as a documentary poem and a lamentation on air, breath, birds, mountains and wind power.
For several years, Bergh has followed the construction of – and opposition to – industrial windfarms at Fovsen/Fosen while also tracing the presence of Southern Sámi along the coast in the regions of Møre and Trøndelag. Documenting the importance of Sámi culture past and present, Bergh examines Sàmi place names, words, sacred and sacrificial sites, mountains, memories and myths to reveal how the Southern Sámi language acts as a key to uncovering the past, thereby helping us reconnect with the land and all its inhabitants – including the non-human. Can we rediscover the magic that enables us all to live with as well as within our surroundings?
Elmie is the second instalment in the artist’s short film series knowhowknow (2018–ongoing), which examines how we understand the world. The films all revolve around the geographical area that extends from Frohavet, off the coast of Trøndelag, to the mountains bordering Jämtland in Sweden. Elmie recently premiered as part of the group exhibition “Giltebe!” (Glitter!), at LevArt in Levanger, which celebrated the town officially being bestowed with the Southern Sámi name of Levangke. The first film in the series was Tjaetsie (Water, 2018).
Sissel Mutale Bergh is an artist based in southwestern Sápmi in Tråante/Trondheim and Fovsen/Fosen. Through film, sculpture, installation, painting, drawing and text, she investigates the ways in which we can connect with and understand the world around us. Her recent exhibitions include: “Giltebe!”, LevArt, Levangke/Levanger, Norway (2023); Speaking Back, Kunsthaus Hamburg, Germany (2023); Kunna, Guanna, Concha, Kunsthall Trondheim, Norway (2023); “I Call It Art”, National Museum, Oslo, Norway (2022); Alakkaajut (Many Things Appear), Urban Shaman Gallery, Winnipeg, Canada (2022); Biennale of Sydney, Australia (2020); and Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art, Sweden (2019). Bergh studied at the Academy of Fine Art in Oslo and the Durban University of Technology, South Africa
Participants in the film include: the musician Torgeir Vassvik; students from the Bird Knowledge programme at Nord University, Norway; and Åerjel Fovsen Njaarke sijte/Søndre Fosen reindeer herding district.
The film has been produced with support from Midtnorsk filmsenter, Arts Council Norway and Billedkunstnernes vederlagsfond
Volt’s programme in 2023 has received funding from Arts Council Norway and the City of Bergen.