Artist Jeannette Ehlers To Visit Gustavus

The Danish-Trinidadian will be on campus April 24-28 as the 2023 Out of Scandinavia Artist-in-Residence
Posted on April 21st, 2023 by

Danish-Trinidadian performance artist Jeannette Ehlers will be on campus from April 24-28. (Photo by Marlene Anne Lough.)

One might assume that Scandinavia has little to teach us about diversity. The Gustavus 2023 Out of Scandinavia (OOS) Artist-in-Residence, Jeanette Ehlers, has spent her career dispelling that assumption.

Beginning April 24, the College will host the Copenhagen-based, Danish-Trinidadian performance artist for a week of classroom discussions, visits with students and faculty, a public lecture— “From Invisibility to Manifestation,” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Apr. 26 in the Gardner Lab Theatre, which is open to the public — and other events.

Ehlers works experimentally across photography, video, installation, sculpture, and performance. Her themes often evoke decolonial hauntings and disruptions, and she insists on the possibility for empowerment and healing in her art, honoring legacies of resistance in the African diaspora by merging the historical, the collective, and the rebellious with the familial, the bodily, and the poetic. Her latest major solo installation Archives in the Tongue: A Litany of Freedoms,” a spiritual and meditative space on Afro-Caribbean relations featuring the mythical figure Moko Jumbie, exhibited in Summer 2022 at Kunsthall Charlottenborg in Denmark, to critical acclaim. Her work also is currently featured in the Minneapolis Institute of Art exhibition, “Fragments of Epic Memory.”

Ursula Lindqvist, Scandinavian Studies and Comparative Literature, said choosing Ehlers to be this year’s OOS resident was timely and pertinent for Gustavus students across all disciplines. “We always try to invite someone who has something to say to our students about this moment we’re in, and about what they’re studying, and Ehlers has a really broad appeal and relevance to many sections of our campus,” Lindqvist said. “This semester, for example, I’m teaching a course on Nordic colonialism and post-colonial studies, which speaks to what Jeanette does by engaging with Nordic colonialism as someone who is Black and Danish. She also has a high level of willingness to engage with students and spend a lot of time talking with them about the work they do.”

Ehlers’s visit runs through Friday, Apr. 28 and will include a master class on performance art for Theatre & Dance students, and she’ll visit courses in many departments, including Martha Ndakalako’s “African Digital Literatures,” Phil Bryant’s “Poetry of the African Diaspora,” Lindqvist’s seminar, and Tiffany Grobelski’s Global Migration course, among others. The Center for Inclusive Excellence and the Pan-Afrikan Student Organization (PASO) will co-host a reception for Ehlers in the CIE from noon-1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Apr. 25, and there will be many opportunities for students to interact informally with Ehlers during her stay.

“We have so many different departments and programs contributing to this; we’ve worked closely with the Art and Art History Department and with Theatre and Dance,” Lindqvist said. “The PASO reception underlines how Jeanette is a very prominent Black global artist whose work speaks to bringing blackness into white spaces. We wanted her to talk to them about their experiences while also helping help them understand that the Nordic region is not just one big white space. That area has a lot to teach us about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, and about some of the challenges that crop up when we strive for those kinds of goals.”

An installation of Ehlers’ works in video and image slides will be screened in the hallway directly outside the Gardner Lab Theatre from Wednesday afternoon through Wednesday night. On Thursday, Apr. 27, Ehlers will repeat her lecture at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. All these events are free and open to the public.

This residency is supported by the Marguerite Olson Pratt OOS Artist-in-Residence Program Endowment Fund, which was established by Charlotte (Pratt) ’86 and Henrik ’88 Nordstrom of Minneapolis, in honor of Charlotte’s late mother, Marguerite ‘53. The week’s events are also co-sponsored by Interdisciplinary programs in African and Africa Diaspora Studies; Latin American, Latinx, and Caribbean Studies; Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies; Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies; Comparative Literature; the Department of Art & Art History; the Department of Theatre & Dance; the Center for Inclusive Excellence; the Equity and Inclusion Division; the Center for International and Cultural Education; and PASO.

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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