Tate St Ives is hosting the UK’s first extensive exhibition featuring the works of renowned Sámi visual artist Outi Pieski, also known as Čiske-Jovsset Biret Hánsa Outi, who was born in 1973 in Helsinki, Finland. The Outi Pieski exhibition is a significant cultural event, showcasing the artist’s profound connection to the land and exploring the spiritual interplay between humans and the environment.
Exploring Pieski’s Artistic Journey
Outi Pieski, a prominent figure in contemporary art, particularly in the context of Indigenous peoples’ rights and traditional knowledge, brings a unique perspective through her work. The exhibition at Tate St Ives includes a comprehensive display of Pieski’s acclaimed works, including her evocative figurative landscapes, insightful photographs, and intricate prints.
A highlight of the exhibition is Pieski’s sculptural creations, with the centrepiece being the newly commissioned installation, “Skábmavuođđu – Spell on Me!”, 2024, crafted during her residency at Porthmeor Studios in January 2024.
The Essence of Sámi Culture in Pieski’s Work
Outi Pieski resides and creates her art in Sápmi, the homeland of the Indigenous Sámi people, spread across Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. The rugged terrain of her home municipality of Ohcejohka (Utsjoki) heavily influences her art, creating a dialogue between the natural landscape and its inhabitants.
The Outi Pieski exhibition at Tate St Ives is a testament to this connection, showcasing her lesser-known acrylic landscape paintings like “Rástegáisa lágalaš riektesubjeaktan II/Sacred Mountain Rástegáisa as a Legal Person II”, 2018 and “Deatnu, máttožan/Deatnu River, Our Ancestor”, 2018. These paintings reveal Pieski’s unique approach to texture and space, highlighting the spiritual significance of culturally sacred sites.
Pieski’s Textile Installations: A Blend of Art and Tradition
A vital aspect of the Outi Pieski exhibition at Tate St Ives is her large-scale textile installations, deeply rooted in Sámi visual heritage. These works incorporate elements of traditional Sámi clothing and ‘duodji’, an Indigenous craft practice. Pieski’s approach to these installations, often made in collaboration with other Sámi women, challenges and redefines the boundaries between contemporary art and traditional craftsmanship.
The installations, such as “Beavvit – Rising Together II”, 2021, and the monumental “Guržot ja guovssahat – Spell on You!”, 2020, displayed alongside the new “Skábmavuođđu – Spell on Me!”, 2024, exemplify this fusion.
Reconnecting with Lost Sámi Culture
As an artist and an activist, the Outi Pieski exhibition goes beyond aesthetic appeal; it is a means to reconnect with and revive elements of Sámi culture that were suppressed following Scandinavian colonialism.
A significant part of the exhibition includes works from the project “Máttaráhku ládjogahpir/Foremothers’ Hat of Pride”, 2017-21, created in collaboration with Finnish archaeologist Eeva-Kristiina Nylander. This project focuses on the ládjogahpir, traditional headdresses worn by Sámi women, which faced restrictions during the Laestadianism movement in the 19th century.
Pieski and Nylander’s research has culminated in a comprehensive inventory of surviving ládjogahpirs, leading to the creation of artworks like “47 eanemus ohccojuvvon máttaráhkut/47 Most Wanted Foremothers”, 2019, and “Lossa máttaráhkku/The Heavy Weight of the Foremother”, 2021. These works showcase the rich history of the ládjogahpir and ignite discussions on the erasure of Indigenous traditions.
The Impact of the Outi Pieski Exhibition
The Outi Pieski exhibition at Tate St Ives profoundly explores the intersection between art, culture, and identity. Through her diverse works, Pieski invites viewers to engage with the rich Sámi culture and contemplate the broader themes of environmental spirituality, Indigenous rights, and reclaiming suppressed cultural practices. This exhibition is a monumental contribution to understanding Sámi culture and its representation in the global art scene.
About Outi Pieski
Ohcejohka (Utsjoki), Finland. A Finnish Academy of Fine Arts graduate in Helsinki (2000), Pieski has carved a niche in the international art scene over the past two decades. Her work has been showcased at several prestigious exhibitions worldwide, including the Gothenburg Biennial (2023), Gropius Bau in Berlin (2022), Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm (2022), the Biennale of Sydney (2022), the Gwangju Biennale (2021), and the Venice Biennale (2019).
Pieski’s art has garnered significant recognition, leading to its inclusion in esteemed collections such as the National Museum Collection in Norway, the Moderna Museet, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, and the Sámi Dáiddamagasiidna – Sámi Art Collections in Norway.
Her contributions to the art world have been acknowledged through several accolades, including the prestigious Finnish Academy of Fine Arts Award in 2017 and the Finnish Cultural Foundation’s Grand Prize in 2020. These recognitions underscore her influence and importance in contemporary art, especially in highlighting Sámi culture and heritage.
The Outi Pieski exhibition is curated by Anne Barlow, Director, with Giles Jackson, Assistant Curator, Tate St Ives. Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation supports Outi Pieski with additional support from the Outi Pieski Exhibition Supporters Circle, Tate Americas Foundation and Tate Members.
The Outi Pieski exhibition runs from 10 February to 1 May 2024 at Tate St Ives, Porthmeor Beach, St Ives, Cornwall TR26 1TG. For more information, visit tate.org.uk
Outi Pieski, edited by Anne Barlow and Giles Jackson and published by Tate St Ives in association with Tate Publishing. Published March 2024, £19.99, it features contributions by Asta M. Balto, Anne Barlow, Pauliina Feodoroff, Niillas Holmberg, and Dr Eeva-Kristiina Nylander.
Outi Pieski: In Conversation and Talk
10 February 2024, accessible with a gallery ticket, Tate St Ives
In Conversation with Anne Barlow, 12.00 – 13.00
Talk with Outi Pieski and Eeva-Kristiina Nylander, 15.00 – 16.00
To mark the opening weekend of the Outi Pieski exhibition, join the artist in conversation with Anne Barlow, Director, Tate St Ives, followed by a talk about Rematriation by Outi Pieski and Eeva-Kristiina Nylander.
We Are Eagles: Indigenous Art and Regenerative Practice with Outi Pieski and Maree Clarke
28 April 2024, free, Tate Modern, Starr Cinema
A panel discussion on contemporary Indigenous art practice with artists Outi Pieski and Maree Clarke discussing regenerative knowledge and restoration of land and culture with Kimberley Moulton, adjunct curator, First Nations/Indigenous Art, Tate Modern.