Curators text by Kristina Möster Nilsson

Katarina Pirak Sikku describes herself as slow but quick nonetheless. This is a good trait for an artist who, in less than six months, has to advance from sketch to completed work. When Pirak Sikku began sketching the artistic intervention for the Östersund campus, she was in Australia on a research trip, hiking and studying patterns designed by the indigenous people – ideas she brought back home. At the foot of the mountains, Östersund is a city where many have hiked, conscripts as well as students. Completed in 2019, the work Vájaldibme – Vandring  forms part of the expansion of the Mid Sweden University campus and comprises three parts, Máttarmuora, Mijá luotta and Almerabda.

Where do you come from? The question is tangible in Pirak Sikku’s life and her art and it informs the selection of materials for Vájaldibme. Consequently, the timber in the large outdoor installation Máttarmuora was collected from areas in Älvdalen ravaged by fire during the drought in the summer of 2018. When, as a result of the fire, the Swedish Fortifications Agency cut the forest down, they donated timber to the artwork. Among the upright logs in Máttarmuora there are seats of recycled stone sourced from the current campus area, previously the Norrland Artillery Regiment A4. Mijá luotta, tin footprints inset in the limestone floor, is located inside the building (K). Mounted with the sole of the feet upwards, each naked sole daily encounters the students’ shoe soles as they make their way to and from lectures. Tin, a traditional Sámi craft material, takes on a new form in this artwork. Each footstep is a tin cast of the artist’s feet. Finally, Almerabda, a long series of drawings was created in Årrenjarka where Pirak Sikku enjoys views of a vast mountain landscape, which reminds her of childhood summers, of the bay where her father grew up and the hike that leads her to the family’s rebuilt lavvu. Vájaldibme springs from all this and also from the, at the time, radical art that her father Lars Pirak passed on to the next generation.

The Hike
As one moves between Máttarmuora, Mijá luotta and Almerabda one notices how the landscape encounters water and fire. Almerabda receives its power from the landscape where the river is free and undammed while the logs in Máttarmuora have been licked by the fire that devoured most of what was in its path. When the river becomes dammed the water takes everything in its way, not unlike the advance of fire. With a starting point in both contemporary events in nature and Pirak Sikku’s relationship to her own heritage, Vájaldibme is an innovative work.