2022_Guest Lecture: M. Danbolt / Polarhistorie på Skeiva

Lecture by Mathias Danbolt and guided tour of exhibition «Polarhistorie på Skeiva» (Polar History in Queer) by Silje Gaupseth and Marit Anne Hauan at The Polar Museum, Tromsø organised by WONA in collaboration with The Polar Museum/The Arctic University Museum of Norway and the research group CircumPolar Gender. The Q&A session after the lecture is moderated by WONA member Hanne Hammer Stien.

In 2022 it was fifty years since the Norwegian state repealed Section 213 of the Criminal Code, which criminalized the sex lives of men who had sex with men. To mark this democratic "milestone" in Norwegian history, Skeivt Arkiv - The Norwegian archive for queer history, the National Museum and the National Library took the initiative in 2020 to make 2022 a "Queer Culture Year". Despite limited government funding, the commemorative year has resulted in a surprisingly large number of exhibitions, seminars and events across the country. In this lecture, Mathias Danbolt gave a personal account of his experiences with the celebrations. Through excerpts from his research diary, Danbolt reflected on the conditions for queer art history writing in Norway, and on what the art institutions' sudden desire to raise the rainbow flag is really about.

Mathias Danbolt (b. 1983) works, among other things, with art, politics and power at the intersection of queer, feminist, anti-racist and decolonialist perspectives. He is the leader of the research projects "The Art of Nordic Colonialism: Writing Transcultural Art Histories" (Carlsbergfonden 2019–23) and "Moving Monuments: The Material Life of Sculpture from the Danish Colonial Era" (Novo Nordisk Foundation 2022–25). He is employed as a professor of art history at the University of Copenhagen.

«Polarhistorie på Skeiva» explores the queer sides of a polar museum collection. In the light of new research material – academic books, interviews, newspaper articles, archival photos, fiction and travelling stories – familiar historical perspectives are reversed. Queer polar history is neither right-angled nor complete, but includes ideas about and of people who broke with the norms for gender and sexuality in polar regions in the period 1890–1970. Behind the exhibition project are polar cultural studies researchers Silje Gaupseth and Marit Anne Hauan, both working at The Arctic University Museum of Norway. «Polarhistorie på Skeiva» is the museum’s contribution to Queer Culture Year 2022.