Arctic Culture Lab

Nordic Brainstorm on Islands

What does islands stand for? How can Nordic islands through interaction with artists formulate ideas that insist on the importance of democratic values as part of sustainable thinking?

In a network between Artist in Residencies situated on islands belonging to Greenland, Iceland, Åland and Northern Norway we want to investigate and develop the positiv power of Nordic islands as a tool and model for artistic research towards free, democratic and unlimited thinking, training and practice that encourages participants to leave their comfort zone.

During the network gatherings we want to work towards the communities where the network partners are located at. Brainstorming about human and Nordic values through art can engage a broader audience and have an inpact on public opinion. That`s of special interest for school classes presenting the future generation.

Residencies for artists are predominantly expected to be pure providers for artists who are looking for a place for work, thinking and inspiration. In a series of joint work-meetings we want to take the function of residency centers one step further by giving Nordic residency centers that can be characterized by a shared geography, the possiblity to brainstorm their role as active platforms for rethinking values of islands through artistic research. We believe such a network is needed and can contribute to a higher esteem of the positive power of Nordic islands and motivate visiting artists to be inspired by that.

Looking at daily news one can easily get the impression that our democratic values are at stake. It seems that an increasing part of the world is affected by the “Island mentality” which gains increasing negative socio-political attention in terms of a cultural or ideological superiority. The psychological term of “Island mentality” describes personalities, communities or leaders who feel a kind of exceptionalism, the belief that they generally are better than others. Social theorists point to the danger connected to ethnocentrism that make people look at others through the lens of their own culture with the goal to rate it. That is somethng we experience on a daily level in Greenland.

With focus on the increasing exposure that spreads from cultural, moral, or ideological superiority, we want to explore how Artist Residencies on Nordic islands can formulate a program that empowers visiting artist to deal with the subject of democracy by discovering the positiv power of islands as a tool and model for artistic research. Hereby we want to explore the model of the Island syndrome, a term used by biologists that describes better survival chances of individuals living and sharing an island.

Reflections on the topic should include the risk of provincialism that is characterized by a disregard or enmity to outsiders, outside values, ideas, etc. All that can easily be found on islands, too. We want to investigate how residency centers through calls for artists and social engaged art projects can challenge this kind of narrow-mindedness.