Art & Artists

NEW YORKMatti Aikio

Sticks are balanced together, creating a shelter-like creation. They stand next to a large body of water under a blue sky.

Matti Aikio’s commission for Together Again is realised in collaboration with the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School and Frame Contemporary Art Finland.

Aikio has previously investigated conflict situations between Sámi reindeer herders and the industrial development projects in their lands. For his fellowship project, Aikio will be conducting research on the legacies of settler colonialism and counter-movements to Indigenous organising in the United States, and will create spaces through video and programming, to allow for intersections to emerge between histories of Indigenous resistance in the United States and the Nordic countries. Matti Aikio is a 2022-2023 Sámi Fellow at the Vera List Center during his commission for the Together Again project.

Conflicting Relations

March 11, 2023
11am–4pm EST
at Starr Foundation Hall, University Center, The New School, 64 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011 & Livestream

Conflicting Relations is a day-long program that brings together artists, curators, and institutions whose practices go beyond hospitality and act as correctives to prescribed host and guest hierarchies, on intimate and infrastructural levels.

Since the inception of Rehearsing Hospitalities in 2019, Indigenous perspectives on matters of hospitality—and acknowledging the various forms of social, cultural, and political inhospitality that Sámi people experience—have been critical to the program and the dialogues it fosters. This two-part event “re-turns” to matters of Indigeneity and hospitality in a US and Canadian context and presents Matti Aikio’s practice alongside a range of practitioners to exchange resonances and resistances. Speakers include Matti Aikio, Emily Johnson, Elina Waage Mikalsen, Wanda Nanibush, S.J Norman, Ali Rosa-Salas, Ana Beatriz Sepúlveda, and Karoline Trollvik, among others.

11.00 am Committed Relationships

This session reflects on diverse modes of hospitality and its attendant politics. Pairs of artists and host institutions discuss their long-term relationships and how they redefine practices, understandings, and engagements between them. Choreographer and director Emily Johnson and Ali Rosa-Salas, Vice President of Visual and Performing Arts at Henry Street Settlement, discuss the transformative power of their collaboration and its reverberation throughout the institution. Artist and writer S.J Norman and Ana Beatriz Sepúlveda, Head of Community Access and Inclusion, at Performance Space, map out the relations powering Knowledge of Wounds, a series of care-oriented programs that originated at Performance Space in 2018 and other partner organizations. Artist Elina Waage Mikalsen and Karoline Trollvik, Head of Communications and External Relations, Office for Contemporary Art Norway, discuss their experience working for and in Sámi and majority institutions. Through these and other examples, the panel considers what hospitality looks like when led by Indigenous artists and how institutions self-correct to be in good relations with artists, the land, and local communities. Introductions and moderated discussion by Yvonne Billimore, Associate Curator, Frame Contemporary Art Finland, and Eriola Pira, Curator and Director of Programs, Vera List Center.

1.30 pm Lunch

Hospitality for this program extends to include lunch for all onsite participants.

2.30 pm Matti Aikio in conversation with Wanda Nanibush

In conversation with Anishinaabe curator, artist, and educator Wanda Nanibush, Curator of Indigenous Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Sámi artist Matti Aikio presents his research on the so-called “neo-Lapp movement” in Finland and settler-colonial attempts at claiming Indigenous identity. Taking into consideration Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination, Aikio looks past individual violations to question the structural and large-scale implications of this movement as a counter-strategy to the political mobilization of the Sámi. Aikio’s practice considers the ongoing conflict between the Sámi culture and the Nordic nation-states’ use of natural resources. Introductions by Monica Gathuo, Executive Producer of Together Again project, the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York.

Closing remarks by Jussi Koitela, Head of Programme, Frame Contemporary Art Finland, and Carin Kuoni, Senior Director and Chief Curator, Vera List Center.

The program is live streamed on the Vera List Center and Frame Contemporary Art Finland websites and features closed captioning. Registration is now open.

Conflicting Relations is presented as part of Matti Aikio’s fellowship with Vera List Center for Art and Politics, commission with the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York as part of the Together Again project, and his participation in Frame’s Rehearsing Hospitalities public programme in 2023.


The Vera List Center is committed to ensuring that the programs are accessible to and inclusive of all. Wheelchair or mobility device seating is available.

The live stream will include closed captioning.

If you need this or any additional accommodations, please send an email to


About the artist

Man bends down on wet grass, lighting a small fire on the side of a mountain. Smoke obscures the persons face.

Matti Aikio (b. 1980) is a Sámi artist with roots in reindeer herding. He graduated from the Tromsø Academy of Contemporary Art with an MA in contemporary art in 2018. In his art, Aikio explores phenomena stemming from the intersection of modern Western society’s and indigenous culture’s – the Sámi culture’s in particular – worldview and relationship with space, time, and nature. He takes a keen interest in the conflict between the Sámi culture and the Nordic nation states’ use of natural resources. Aikio thinks that this conflict arises from their fundamentally different approaches to nature. Aikio’s works have recently been on display in the following exhibitions: Unfinished Histories, Botkyrka Konsthall, Stockholm (2022); Mäccmõš, maccâm, máhccan – The Homecoming, National Museum of Finland, Helsinki (2021–2022); and Nils-Aslak Valkeapää – Áillohaš, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo (2020–2021).



The Finnish Cultural Institute in New York

The Finnish Cultural Institute in New York is a not-for-profit organisation that works across the fields of contemporary art, design and architecture, creating dialogue between Finnish and American professionals and audiences. The institute, founded in 1990, has grown from a residency program to commissioning large-scale projects and events that foster critical dialogue and work to build support for art professionals.

The Finnish Academic and Cultural Institutes’ commissioning programme Together Again is funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation and the Wihuri Foundation.


Frame Contemporary Art Finland

Frame Contemporary Art Finland is an advocate for Finnish contemporary art. Frame supports international initiatives, facilitates professional partnerships, and encourages critical development of the field through grants, visitor programme and curator residencies, seminars and talks, exhibition collaborations, and network platforms. Frame commissions Finland’s participation in the Venice Biennale.

Rehearsing Hospitalities is Frame Contemporary Art Finland’s public programme, 2019 to 2023. It connects artists, curators, and other practitioners in the field of contemporary art and beyond to build up and mediate new practices, understandings, and engagements with diverse hospitalities.

Rehearsing Hospitalities 2023 is part of the EU-funded project Islands of Kinship: A Collective Manual for Sustainable and Inclusive Art Institutions. 


The Vera List Center for Art and Politics

The Vera List Center for Art and Politics is a non-profit research center at The New School in New York. Through its dynamic interdisciplinary programs, conferences, artist fellowships, residencies, exhibitions, and publications, the VLC imagines and supports new forms of politically engaged art, research, public scholarship, and community around the world.

The 2022–2024 Vera List Center Focus Theme: Correction* and the programs dedicated to it explore the tension and discomfort it inspires to pose questions about the metaphorical, political, and social dimensions and implications of correction.

The 2022–2023 Sámi Fellowship is a joint initiative between Frame Contemporary Art Finland, the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School.