Exhibition | Dressing with Purpose in Scandinavia

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on December 7, 2021

From left to right: Eva Aira and Inga Lajla Aira Balto in gávttit from Jåhkåmåhkke and Kárášjohka; Sven Roos in Gagnefsdräkt and Lars-Erik Backman in Leksandsdräkt; Fatima Aakhus and Randi Myrum in Setesdalsbunader. (Photos by Carrie Hertz).

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From the Museum of International Folk Art:

Dressing with Purpose: Belonging and Resistance in Scandinavia
Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, 12 December 2021 — 19 February 2023

Dress helps us fashion identity, history, community, and place. Dress has been harnessed as a metaphor for both progress and stability, the exotic and the utopian, oppression and freedom, belonging and resistance. Dressing with Purpose examines three Scandinavian dress traditions—Swedish folkdräkt, Norwegian bunad, and Sámi gákti—and traces their development during two centuries of social and political change across northern Europe.

By the 20th century, many in Sweden worried about the ravages of industrialization, urbanization, and emigration on traditional ways of life. Norway was gripped in a struggle for national independence. Indigenous Sami communities—artificially divided by national borders and long resisting colonial control—rose up in protests that demanded political recognition and sparked cultural renewal. Within this context of European nation-building, colonial expansion, and Indigenous activism, traditional dress took on special meaning as folk, national, or ethnic minority costumes—complex categories that deserve reexamination today. In this exhibition, visitors will be introduced to individuals who adapt and revitalize dress traditions to articulate who they are, proclaim personal values and group allegiances, strive for sartorial excellence, reflect critically on the past, and ultimately, reshape the societies they live in.

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support comes from Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation and Swedish Council of America.

Carrie Hertz, ed., Dressing with Purpose: Belonging and Resistance in Scandinavia (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2021), 258 pages, ISBN: 978-0253058577, $30.

Map of Scandinavia
A Note on Terms and Place Names

Foreword, Khristaan Villela
Introduction: Can We Talk about Traditional Dress?, Carrie Hertz

Part I. Folkdräkt in Sweden
1  Swedish Folkdräkt, Carrie Hertz
2  They Are at Peace Here, Like Old Friends in Their Caskets: Traditional Dress Collections as Heritage-making, Lizette Gradén

Part II. Bunad in Norway
3  Norwegian Bunad, by Carrie Hertz
4  Headdress and Hijab: Bunad in Multicultural Norway, Camilla Rossing
5  The Transnational and Personalized Bunad of the Twenty-First Century, Laurann Gilbertson

Part III. Gákti in Sápmi
6  Sámi Gákti, Carrie Hertz
7  The Legacy of Ládjogahpir: Rematriating Sápmi with Foremother’s Hat of Pride, Eeva-Kristiina Harlin and Outi Pieski

Conclusion: The Future of Traditional Dress, Carrie Hertz

List of Contributors

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