Britta Marakatt-Labba artwork joins Nationalmuseum collection
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Britta Marakatt-Labba artwork joins Nationalmuseum collection
Britta Marakatt-Labba, Máilmmi liegganeapmi (Global Warming II). Embroidered appliqué, 2021. Inventory number: NMK 110/2023.

STOCKHOLM.- Living as she does close to nature, Sami artist Britta Marakatt-Labba is increasingly aware of the changes being wrought by global warming. Thanks to a very generous donation from the Friends of Nationalmuseum Bengt Julin Foundation, her work Máilmmi liegganeapmi (Global Warming II) has now joined the Nationalmuseum collection.

Beneath the surface, something is stirring. Since she began her career in 1979, Britta Marakatt-Labba has consistently made nature, environmental destruction and Sami culture the focus of her art. Fabric and thread are her raw materials. The piece donated to Nationalmuseum is executed in application technique. Its surface is embellished with tracks, hand-embroidered and executed with sewing machine. The off-white fabric scraps, represent ice and snow. The warming climate has caused the permafrost, with its covering of ice and snow, to rupture; blue water and red lava are seeping forth. At the centre, the cracks form a ring, which is a recurring motif in Marakatt-Labba’s work, symbolising the passage of time and the survival of successive generations. Inside the ring are the Earth Mothers in their red hats. According to Sami tradition, they dwell underground and do everything in their power to protect the natural world. The black shape resembling a staircase represents the Kiruna iron ore mine and its environmental impact.

Britta Marakatt-Labba is one of Sweden’s most successful artists. She achieved international prominence in 2017 with Historija, a 24-metre-long embroidery exhibited at the Documenta 4 contemporary art exhibition. Wide-open landscapes in which sparse, sprawling stitches form windswept mountain birches and reindeer in the snow are widely seen as the hallmark of Marakatt-Labba’s aesthetic. In Máilmmi liegganeapmi (Global Warming II) she has used a different technique: multilayered appliqué in linen, silk, tulle and lace, attached using a combination of free-motion machine embroidery and hand embroidery in red and white stranded thread. Marakatt-Labba used the same technique in 2007 to create Máilmmi liegganeapmi (Global Warming I), now owned by Umeå university. In Nationalmuseum’s 2021 version, noticeably more cracks have developed in the ice.

Cilla Robach, head of the collection unit and curator for contemporary craft and design, said: “This work is a significant addition to the Nationalmuseum collection. It raises timely questions about climate change and shows Britta Marakatt-Labba’s ability to master diverse artistic techniques without compromising her aesthetic.”

Before going on display at Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, the piece will feature in a major retrospective exhibition, Britta Marakatt-Labba: Needle-Sharp Stitches, running at Nasjonalmuseet in Oslo from 15 March to 25 August 2024.

The work has been acquired for the national public collection thanks to a generous donation from the Friends of Nationalmuseum Bengt Julin Foundation. Nationalmuseum has no state-funded budget for new acquisitions but relies on gifting and financial support from private foundations and trusts to enhance its collection.

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