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Open 24/4: 12–17
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Lars Pirak / The One Who Walks Around the Reindeer Herd

2003-11-09 to 2004-01-25

As craftsman and artist Lars Pirak receives his honorary doctorate at Umeå University’s Annual Celebration in 2003, Bildmuseet opens his solo exhibition The One Who Walks Around the Reindeer Herd. Pirak’s daughter – the artist Katarina Pirak Sikku, who is also participating in the exhibition – explains: “All times and peoples need their narrators, the ones who observe, the ones who see. Pirak means ‘the one who walks around the reindeer herd’.”

Lars Pirak was born in 1932 at the Karats mountain lake in Tuorpon Sámi village, 50 miles from Jokkmokk. He is a prominent Sámi personality, and a craftsman and artist with an international reputation. His art is classical and visually strong, with clear elements of a contemporary artistic wilfulness.

The exhibition The One Who Walks Around the Reindeer Herd presents a selection of Pirak’s work from his youth in the 1940s to the present day. Pirak is an innovator within Sámi visual culture, and works consciously with simplifications to signal its history. This is true not least of his largescale production of duodji, a traditional Sámi handicraft. The drawings and sketches presented in the exhibition reveal a slightly different side to his artistry – one that is circumspect and inquiring.

In dialogue with works by the artist Katarina Pirak Sikku, a conversation emerges in sketch form on the walls of Bildmuseet. The story that appears reflects a multifaceted artist and personality: the intimate and private Lars Pirak, but also the fearless debater.

Pirak was one of the first and most versatile innovators of Sámi crafts. He made his breakthrough with knives, wooden drinking vessels and other objects carved from wood and reindeer horn. His ptarmigan-shaped horn salt cellars, with their spoon shaft in the form of a broad bird’s tail, attracted widespread attention.

Since 1950, Pirak’s art has been exhibited around Sweden and also internationally, including at the World Exhibition in New York, and in Canberra, Basel, Helsinki and Tokyo. His works are represented at the Nordic Museum and the National Museum in Stockholm, the Museum of Indian Art in New York, the Ethnographical Collections of Chicago, the British Museum in London, the Ethnographical Museum of Tokyo, the Ethnographical Museum of Mexico, the Museum of Washington, the Museum of Sydney and the Panchgani Cultural Centre in India.

The exhibition is presented in collaboration with CeSam, the Centre for Sámi Research at Umeå University.