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Mats Jonsson / Still Sámi

2022-06-17 to 2023-02-12

It was not until the death of Mats Jonsson’s grandfather that his children and grandchildren discovered that they were Sámi. This secret had remained hidden in a bentwood box filled with documents from the grandfather’s time as a reindeer herder.

Mats Jonsson has drawn the story behind his family secret in black ink on white card as it has emerged from archives and the memories of old people. Time and again while working on the graphic novel When We Were Sámi – which was nominated for the August Prize in 2021 – Jonsson came across signs of how throughout his life he had been surrounded by Sámi artefacts and traditions without understanding their meaning.

In his exhibition at Bildmuseet, Mats Jonsson painstakingly compiles the traces of Sápmi and places them side by side with his own drawings, in an attempt to fill the space that silence hollows out in those who grow up assimilated.

Mats Jonsson (b. 1973, Södertälje) lives and works in Sandslån, Ådalen. He has published seven autobiographical comic books and four illustrated children's books. When We Were Sámi (2021) is the first comic book novel to be nominated for the August Prize.