Highlight Arctic

Click Here for Highlight Arctic Events throughout March 2017!

The Arctic – a vast region, rapidly increasing in global significance and yet all too often misrepresented and misunderstood. In this time of change, we believe we must look beyond the faceless headlines and streams of climate data to explore more closely our understanding of and relationship to our neighbouring Northern landscapes and cultures. 


With rising temperatures, melting ice and changing ecosystems, the Arctic climate is transforming at an alarming rate. Areas previously inaccessible due to extensive ice cover are opening up year-round, becoming available for increased resource extraction and as valuable new shipping routes. The region is witnessing a new type of economy, new communication patterns and environmental changes that are severely impacting the lives of local inhabitants and existing ecosystems.

We believe ART to be unique in its ability to bring people together to offer a more nuanced understanding of complex developments such as these – developments that impact not only the Arctic, but also our everyday lives here in Scotland.

Highlight Arctic is a multi-arts programme curated by Highlight Arts – with live events, film screenings, exhibitions and discussions – presenting a rare opportunity to explore a region not usually seen through its cultural production or as an active participant in shaping its own image on the global scene.

We will bring artists from around the circumpolar north to share their works and experiences with audiences and artists in Scotland; to encourage debate and engagement around the challenges impacting this commonly misrepresented region, and to create space for us to consider our own past, present and future in the European North.


From 24th Feb – 19th March 2017, our Highlight Arctic programme will include:

  • WAYFARERS: Visual/Media Art & Film Exhibition – Summerhall (Edinburgh) – Siberian artist Yulia Kovanova will show THREE TIMES TO THE MOON AND BACK, a series of installations developing on her initial project with the RSPB, investigating the life of the Arctic Tern and environmental factors and interactions between human and non-human animals… Finnish artist Tomi Knuutila will install his Climatable, an interactive table with 4 separate hotspots for 4 different data sets collected from various online scientific research databases… We will have an installation of Ulrike Ottinger‘s 12 hour documentary, Chamisso’s Shadow, which retraces the 1815-1818 journey of botanist Adelbert von Chamisso through Alaska, Chukotka and Kamchatka, and an installation of Nordic poetry-films by video-artist/soundscape-constructor SWOON
  • Jessie Kleemann Performance – An evening of poetry, performance art and film. Inuit poet and performance artist Jessie Kleemann will read a selection of her work (written in English, Danish and native Greenlandic, Kalaallisut) and treat us to a brand new performance piece! With short films from the Arctic.
  • Arctic Film Programme – Filmhouse & Summerhall (Edinburgh), CCA & Glasgow Autonomous Space (Glasgow) – The film programme will include works of Jenny Gilbertson who produced films in Scotland in the 1930s and in Arctic Canada in the 1970s, including a special screening with live musical accompaniment by composer Atzi Muramatzu; short films questioning the governance of natural resources in Northern Norway and the High North; a 3-day focus on work produced by the pioneering Arnait Video Productions, the first women’s collective independent production company in the Arctic; and we’ve all heard of Nanook of the North, but how many of you have seen Ed Folger’s biting and hilarious 1977 film Nanook Taxi…?!




Tromsø, 2015 (Photo: Yasmin Al-Hadithi)


Previous Highlight Arctic Events include: 

Northern Lights: Voices from the Arctic – Free Word Centre, London (28th November 2016) – Following COP22, Jessie Kleemann, Inuit poet and performance artist, and Niillas Holmberg, Sámi poet, musician, actor and activist performed work that reflects on the Arctic region and the current global political issues that it is facing. We also presented two films about life in Arctic communities: Pitaqangittuq (32 mins) and Hollow Earth (23min). [Supported by Embassy of Denmark in the United Kingdom and the Embassy of Finland, London.]

Head North, My Friend – Jura Unbound @ Edinburgh International Book Festival, Spielgeltent, Edinburgh (19th August 2015) – Words, music and stories from Sámi poet and musician Niillas Holmberg, Icelandic crime-writer Ragnar Jonasson and the Inuit poet and-live artist Jessie Kleemann. Shetlandic poet Christine De Luca read new translations specially commissioned by the EIBF and DJ Aikio provided aural beats.

Highlight Arctic @ Late Lab: Pecha Kucha – Summerhall, Edinburgh (9th April 2015) – Highlight Arctic Directors, Yasmin Al-Hadithi & Mirja Koponen, speed-presented the Highlight Arctic project at the Late Lab, as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival. So much to say, so little time!

Highlight Arctic @ Edinburgh International Science Festival – Summerhall, Edinburgh (14th April 2015) – An evening of slides, stories, films and discussion on the landscape, ecology and cultures of the High North. Award-winning author Gavin Francis, geographic-architects Lateral North and the Highlight Arctic team explored some of the unique peoples, events, research and artworks shaping and defining the region today.