An interactive exhibition in co-creation with Sami
In this project we have been exploring decolonizing design. How can we develop an ethical perspective that can facilitate more democratic and anti-oppressive way of designing when engaging with different communities that have different worldviews.
The project started with participatory fieldwork with the Sami, the indigenous people of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. The goal was to see what happens when different communities look into each others curious eyes. The output of the course has been the design of an interactive exhibition designed with a shift in portraying communities through “otherness” towards portraying “we-ness”.
The output was the design of an interactive exhibition for the Västerbottens Museum in Umeå. In this exhibition we share our experiences with the Sami. By means of engaging the visitors in our stories and asking questions about their own culture, identity and history we shift from portraying “otherness” towards portraying “we-ness”. The interactive exhibition makes the visitors reflect similarities, differences and privileges across communities.
University: Umeå Institute of Design
Duration: 5 weeks
Team: Jijia Tao, Toby Whelan, Iris Ritsma
Funded by: Nordic cultural fund
Do you know yourself?
By sharing our stories and experiences with the Sami and asking people a related question about their own experiences we shed a light on togetherness and we-ness in a complex and multi-cultural world
How it works
Making your identity - How priviledged are you?
In our exhibition we tell the stories about the Sami and their history of oppression in Sweden, also we tell some of our own stories. Each story is accompanied with and interactive visualization or metaphor. The stories are divided into three different categories, Culture, Identity and History. When the visitors have read or experienced the story they are asked a question about themselves and their culture, identity or history. The answer to the stories can either be “yes” or “no”. when your answer is the one that is privileged over the other answer you get to pick a bead and put it onto your thread. As the visitor gets further in the process it becomes clear how privileged some of us are compared to people of other communities. Also we realize how much we have in common.
Take a thread
Pick a bead
Design process - Ethnographic Fieldwork
Spending 5 days living with the Sami, the indigenous people in North Sweden
What happens when different communities look into each others curious eyes?
The project started with participatory fieldwork. With a small team of 4 students we went to a Sami community in the far north of Sweden. In total we spend 5 days living with the Sami taking part in different activities, feeding reindeers, collecting food in the woods, smoking reindeer meat, meeting craftsmen and women, and many interesting conversations. An important part of our experience was to also share our own background, culture and stories this way an equal conversation arose with mutual learnings.
Impressions of the fieldwork
Learning & experiencing the reindeer herding culture
Learning about the sami handicraft
The meaning of symbols, clothes and traditions
Transforming knowledge and experiences into stories
A co-creative story telling workshop
The next phase was all about telling stories and engaging each other in our ethnographic data. We did various workshops about telling stories, experiencing stories and how to make stories engaging. In the end all 12 students that participated in the course had come up with several stories. In a co-creative workshop these stories were shared with stakeholders, tutors, students and the people we met during the fieldwork.
The stories were clustered in five main themes each represented by an umbrella. The stories were hung under the umbrellas and by means of strings connections, disconnections and associations were laid out between the umbrella’s. This workshop has been the basis for creating a structure for the exhibition.
clustering the stories
After the workshop many themes and connections were discovered. With our class we went over the times once again and we clustered them into three final categories. Me and my team picked the topic of Identity as a basis for building our part of the exhibition.
Making the exhibition