The Arctics

I had a lot of plans to walk around all my old haunts in Nuuk and maybe visit some I didn't have time to check in the two months I spent here but in the end I haven't really gotten around to doing any of that. I've been hanging around the community center, napping and also actually being social! Who is this person that I have become? Going to places and meeting people? Unbelievable!

I thought I'd go to Qinngorput and to the beach at Inuk Hostels, because there's always some cool icebergs in there. Wanted to say hi to my old friend Sermitsiaq and thought I'd walk around the airport, the map says that somewhere in there, there's a track and maybe a lonely beach somewhere. But I've just been too busy, and too lazy. After the exhibition was done, I just kind of gave up and thought I'd go with the flow with this visit.

I did visit the colonial harbour a few times because it's so close, and climbed up the small hills near the hotel where I'm staying. Somebody had put up a tent there!

It looks like a funny place to be tenting, but also kind of fascinating. I should have walked up there and said hi, but maybe that would have been creepy. Maybe it was a qivittoq-in-training staying there.

The other day I went to check out Arctic Odyssey, a performance at the National Theatre by Ruska Ensemble. Being a huge movie buff, I don't often really like theater, it just somehow feels hard to dive into a fictitious world through a stage when I'm used to - and love - the cinematic way of story-telling. But I really enjoyed Arctic Odyssey! It wasn't very traditional theater at the end of the day: it had two Finns (one of them a Saami), a Greenlandic woman and a Chukchi woman, all singing and playing various instruments, telling stories about their lives and their cultures. The music was really incredible and inspiring; I particularly loved Anra Naw, the "bear woman from Chukotka", as she called herself. She has this really enchanting, captivating presence, both as an actor and as a singer. I could have watched her perform for many, many more hours. I also really loved the Greenlandic mask dance by Connie Kristoffersen and was just itching to photograph it. I hope one day they'll come to Oulu, I have a few friends that would go crazy for this performance. If I had a lot of money, I'd set up a workshop in Oulu with Anra and Connie. I know it would be inspiring. I kind of want to be an event producer! Where do I get money for that?

The story of Arctic Odyssey is heavily focused on small nations and cultures in the Arctic area and where and how they see their identity existing. I've always thought of myself as a Finn and as somebody who was a little on the outside of everything, both as a "weird" person and both as somebody who lives in a small, a little bit remote country not that many people have heard of. Most of time I've been okay with these identities; I might feel apart sometimes but it's still been a source of strength for me. However, watching Arctic Odyssey, I realized that these identities, or ethnicities, if you will, are still something I can put on and take off at will. In a way I've felt kinship with remote places like Greenland and felt that as somebody coming there from another small place I would fit in. But no matter what I think, I'm still not a minority ethnicity, like the Greenlandics, or the Saami. Like I've said before on this blog; I'm white as the snow and can probably pass for any western nationality I want. It's probably quite naive to think that my outsider identities would give me free pass for anything. Arctic Odyssey made me think about things like these a lot.

It's a hard subject to approach. I'd like to explain how I feel but at the same time, I don't want to sound offensive or ignorant, though I know I might sound both. When I did my project in Greenland with women who'd been sexually assaulted, I went into it thinking it was a project for women. I went into it as a woman and I could disregard ethnicity because mine is in the majority. When I met and worked with these women, I felt I approached them as a woman with similar experiences and we met in that space. I hope they felt the same, but I can't really know that. They were always were nice to me and we shared a lot of experiences and it made me feel understood and made me feel I was in a safe space with like-minded people. I bonded a lot with them and one of these women I consider to be one of my closest friends now. It's strange because we don't even really live on the same continent and can't meet that often but we talked about a lot of pretty intense and intimate stuff so now it feels like we've known each other for a really long time. Plus we just hung out socially a lot outside of my project so I guess in the end it doesn't really matter where you live, you can have real friends anywhere in the world.

Gender equality is very important to me and I look at the men who don't really understand feminism and don't think there's any need for it, and I just hope I don't look the same in front of people to who I'm in the racial majority. Even talking about this feel wrong, somehow! I don't want to be a racist or a "white feminist", you know? But at the same time I have to acknowledge that I might be. I can only try to be smarter and listen to what other people say. That's all. Some heavy ass white lady crap going on here, I guess.

But, well, at least I learnt a lot from all the things I've seen around the world and especially from the performances here at Nuuk Nordisk Kulturfestival. Hopefully I can keep on learning more.


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