Pile o’Sápmi is a work of art that was created as a protest and a symbol of the Norwegian government’s forced slaughter of reindeer belonging to indigenous Sámi herders in Finnmark. Máret Ánne Sara created the original work as an installation of 200 reindeer heads outside the Inner Finnmark District Court in February 2016, where her brother Jovsset Ante Sara brought a case against the Norwegian government. Sara sued the Norwegian state to prevent the forced slaughter policies implemented by the Norwegian government, and defend his right as a Sámi reindeer herder to practice his culture. The case sets an important precedent in terms of indigenous rights in Norway and the rights of reindeer herders in particular.
In parallel, Pile o’Sápmi branched into an interdisciplinary art movement. Máret Ánne Sara curates art and artists to raise awareness and further debate about the ongoing struggles for Sámi rights in Norway and the rest of Sápmi. Several of Sápmi’s foremost artists have exhibited and performed work in galleries and in public spaces in Deatnu, Tromsø and Oslo, closely tracking the case as it moves through the legal system.
Their work has brought greater attention to the case, creating spaces and events where politicians, media and the wider public learn more about the principal issues raised by this case and the ongoing infringement of Sámi rights in our contemporary society.
More than 40 artists have donated works of art as part of a lottery to fundraise for Sara’s case, and the social media presence as well as international media has created wide attention to both the artworks and the circumstances of the court case from which the work arose. Pile o’Sápmi has been exhibited internationally at the Documenta14 in Athens and Kassel. The work Pile o’Sápmi Supreme, featuring 400 reindeer skulls, was recently acquired by the National Gallery in Norway.