Forum Lectures #26: Naja Dyrendom Graugaard

Play and humour in Kalaallit decolonial artistic practices

Meme by Inunnguaq Reimer (shared with permission)

Meme by Inunnguaq Reimer (shared with permission).

The historical and contemporary Danish colonial repression of Kalaallit is receiving increased attention in public media, politics, and academic work. The resurfacing of ‘forgotten’ and silenced Kalaallit experiences of Danish colonialism has mobilized renewed public and political calls to revise and decolonize the relations between Denmark and Kalaallit Nunaat. This development has also stimulated – often heated, and at times divisive – debates on the ‘rights and wrongs’ of the colonial history and its current repercussions. While these debates put pressure on colonial ignorance, they also tend to manifest white fragility, settler anxiety, and aversion towards the decolonization process, both between and within the affected peoples and populations.

In this lecture, I will present how Kalaallit artists, SoMe actors, and meme-makers employ playfulness as a transformative way to engage with the ‘unfinished business of decolonization’. In the recent movement to decolonize Danish-Kalaallit relations, several Kalaallit artworks, memes, and performative videos have challenged the ongoing experiences of Danish colonialism by using humour, satire, irony, excess, etc. Exemplified by their work, I will discuss how such forms and modes of playfulness resist dominant structures and stereotypes, subvert power relations and subject positionings. Attending to the (often overlooked) wealth of materials, experiences, and decolonizing strategies that ‘playfulness’ presents, the lecture discusses how Kalaallit decolonial artistic expressions may present alternative modes of unsettling colonial relations today.

About Naja Dyrendom Graugaard

Naja Dyrendom Graugaard is a Danish-Kalaaleq(Inuk) postdoctoral researcher at the School of Communication and Culture at Aarhus University. Naja’s research focuses on past and present colonial relations between Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland) and Denmark, Inuit knowledge and stories, and decolonizing and Indigenizing research methodologies in the Arctic. She often draws on auto-reflexive, arts-based, and collaborative approaches as ways to unsettle colonial knowledge regimes. Besides her research, Naja also engages in different forms of public dissemination on Nordic colonial histories through debates, workshop facilitation, creative writing, and performative engagements.

To read more about her research and publications.

Forum Lectures

Forum Lectures is a series of lectures by Danish and international thinkers and cultural workers reflecting on how art co-forms commonality. Forum Lectures bring thinking and shared study back to the university and invite public lectures on the last Tuesday of every month from 17:00 - 19:00.

The initiative is hosted by the research group of the New Carlsberg Foundation research centre Art as Forum. Our researchers are occupied by a.o. the infrastructures of the arts, collective modes of production, the entanglement of political theory and aesthetic theory, assembling strategies of curation, dematerialized art, acts of strategic separatism and temporality in digital art.

The lecture is free and open to everyone interested.