Til bevillingsoversigt

The Art of Nordic Colonialism: Writing Transcultural Art Histories

Semper Ardens: Accelerate


"The Art of Nordic Colonialism" brings together art historians and museum curators working on art and visual culture related to Nordic colonial projects in the Caribbean, West Africa, India, Greenland, Iceland, and Sápmi. The project arises from the fact that artists took active part in imperialist projects from the 17th century and onwards, either as participants in colonial expeditions, as 'tourists' and travelers, or as onlookers from home. At the same time, colonized subjects used aesthetic practices in their resistance to colonial rule. This research project will commence a collective examination of the role colonialism has had on the creation and reception of art and art histories across the Nordic countries and their former colonies from the 1600s up until the present.


Art and visual culture pertaining to Nordic colonial histories have received surprisingly little scholarly attention and remain to be properly accounted for. The project's contention is that the political investment in narratives of national and cultural homogeneity in the Nordic region have overshadowed the traditions of transcultural exchange, influence, and conflict engrained in histories of colonial encounters. The colonial inflection of the definition of art has also framed aesthetic practices by the colonized as 'ethnographica' to be studied by anthropologist not art historians. This research project seeks to move beyond nationalized art histories and their colonial legacies in order to develop new transcultural and decolonial approaches to the history of art and visual culture.


The project's core research group is comprised of scholars and museum curators based in Denmark, Greenland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland who will work, in dialogue with a larger international advisory board, on undertaking new art historical research pertaining to Nordic colonial histories. In dialogue with theoretical discussions in fields such as global art history, postcolonial and indigenous studies, the project seeks to develop new conceptual and methodological approaches to the writing of transcultural art histories, attentive to processes of cultural syncretism, aesthetic exchange and cultural amalgamation.


The research project not only seeks to foster new ground-breaking research, it also seeks to act as an agent of capacity building in the art museum sector by stimulating the development of new curatorial and communicative strategies for working with transcultural perspectives and colonial histories. The focus on the aesthetic history of transculturation in the Nordic region speaks directly into contemporary discussions on diversity, multiculturalism, and difference in contemporary culture. Working closely with national and regional art museums, which will host different curatorial interventions, is one way to secure that the research will be communicated and disseminated to broad and diverse audience beside the academic publications, seminars, and events that the project also includes.