The Artists’ International Development Fund is a joint partnership between the British Council and the Arts Councils in England and Northern Ireland which opens up international perspectives for artists to expand their horizons.
The Artists’ International Development Fund is more than just a way to put on an exhibition in another country. It gives artists the chance to share their passion with others and get their names out there. Artists build valuable connections and strong networks during their time abroad, as well as immersing yourself in a completely different culture.
Kuannersuit; Kvanefjeldet: Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway
Project Title: Kuannersuit; Kvanefjeldet
Artists: Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway
Dates of travel: 1-30th July 2016
Country: Greenland, Denmark and Sweden
With assistance from The Arts Catalyst, Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway applied for the Artists International Development grant in order to develop a research project whilst living in Greenland for one month during the summer of 2016.
What evolved was a film project entitled Kuannersuit; Kvanefjeldet, which investigated perceptions in Greenland at a time when the population is deeply divided on the issue of uranium mining as a means of gaining national autonomy, social progress and financial independence. The project explored a country, which is traditionally and emotionally bound with the natural environment, whilst struggling to find independence from colonial ties to Denmark. This path is currently defined through foreign mining companies and what appears to be one if the biggest uranium deposits in the world.
Autogena and Portway spent the summer travelling in south Greenland, meeting residents, politicians, sheep farmers and government officials in the mining region of Kvanefjeld, the rare earth geological site and focus of uranium mining. The final artwork portrays a region where pristine nature and traditional ways of farming and living from nature does not sit easily with the government’s plans for big investments from foreign mining companies. It portrays the conflicting issues of progress, inclusive and informed decision-making and the fight over the vast unknown consequences of siting uranium mining right next to a town and Greenland’s only food producing land regions.
Both artists were struck by the harsh climate, which the sheep farmers in south Greenland have to endure to work on the land, just as their forefathers did before them. Experiencing the light of the Greenland summer, the land and the people of southern Greenland was an unforgettable experience.
The film Kuannersuit; Kvanefjeldet was commissioned by Bildmuseet in Umeå, in Sweden. Curated by UK based Ele Carpenter, Perpetual Uncertainty / Contemporary Art in the Nuclear Anthropocene brings together artists from Europe, Japan, the USA and Australia to investigate experiences of nuclear technology, radiation and the complex relationship between knowledge and deep time. The exhibition can be seen until 16th April, 2017
Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway will give a presentation on their work at Bildmuseet in Sweden on 5th February at 2pm.