How do maps affect our view of a given region and whose realities are being represented in contemporary cartography? The project Data Free Zone SWE/SÁPMI_1, developed by the artistic duo iida-ssi on behalf of Konstmuseet i Norr, investigates which stories were forgotten when the narrative about ‘Europe's last wilderness’ came to life.
In the roughly 200 km long distance between lakes Gátterjávri and Ikkesjávrre in Norrbotten/Sápmi we can find one of Europe's largest areas that lack mobile coverage. Despite being an area of more than two million hectares and with a detailed historical orthography, the data-free zone in northern Sweden is often portrayed as a void – an exotic wilderness with rich natural resources waiting to be explored and prospected.
The artistic duo Iida Jonsson and Ssi Saarinen, iida-ssi, in collaboration with the Sámi researcher Victoria Harnesk from Jokkmokk, have approached what is often portrayed as a cartographic void in the north of Sweden. Through interviews, studies of private and public image collections, historical maps and texts, court proceedings and donated GPS data, the project Data Free Zone SWE/SÁPMI_1 maps the data-free zone and creates a counter-cartography – a parallel and alternative representation.
Data Free Zone SWE/SÁPMI_1 opens on 22 November on a digital platform: https://datafreezone.info/ This is the first phase of the project. In the spring of 2023, the project will be further developed with the completion of the digital platform, an exhibition at Konstmuseet i Norr in Kiruna, and in the data-free zones in the form of printed maps.
The project is curated by Hampus Bergander, Konstmuseet i Norr.
iida-ssi is a collaborative duo formed by iida jonsson (she/they; b. 1997 Oslo) and ssi saarinen (they/them; b.1995 Turku), who has been working from the autonomous region of Åland since 2013. The artist duo's work usually appears through artistic interventions – in which they investigate the cracks and ruptures that have the potential to affect our perceptual periphery.
Their artistic research practice is based on a variety of methods: photography, film, sculpture, cartography, field visits, workshops and interviews. iida-ssi often invites computer scientists, architects or historians to be part of the research process. Their research seeks to reflect and complexify the subjects they work on; suggests parallel truths and potential alternate timelines.
Jonsson and Saarinen hold a Master's degree from the Dirty Art Department, Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam (2020–2022).
Victoria Harnesk (b. 1972 in Gällivare municipality) based in Porjus, is a Sámi researcher, lecturer, author, and copywriter. Harnesk focuses on creating intercultural encounters and communication through art and culture.
Victoria Harnesk has been involved in Sámi community development through chair positions in Vaisa Sameförening, Sameföreningen i Stockholm, and as a member of Svenska Samernas Riksförbund. Harnesk is a member of the Ájtte fjäll- och samemuseum in Jokkmokk and chairwoman of the board of the Samefolket magazine. As well as coordinator for Viermie K, the Sami cultural policy network that works to strengthen the professional cultural life on the Swedish side of Sápmi.