blog, Living in Greenland, Travel


Ataatsimiinneq: festival

Disko Arts Festival 2017

DISKO ARTS FESTIVAL is a festival for artistic encounters and new impulses, with a dedicated focus on the development of new original works of experimental and hybrid formats in contemporary music, theatre and performance.

It was an incredible experience to go to an arts festival last weekend that took place in Oqaatsut (in the Disko Bay area). Between August 2-5, artists of all backgrounds and disciples gathered to explore the intersection of the contemporary music and performing arts. It’s also considered one of the northern-most arts festivals in the world.


I interviewed the Art Director, and she talked about how she was really trying to connect individual artists together through this residency and festival. She mentioned her concern about a the global separation that northern artists are subjected too – by nature they are more disconnected – making collaborations far and few in between. Even within Greenland, she sees this problem manifesting, which is why she created this program that has been running for several years.


Oqaatsut is a pretty special place, which is about 20 minutes by speed boat from Ilulissat. There are ferries that travel as well as a walking trail that’s abut 23km (with it’s up’s and down’s and uneven trail, it takes about 5-6 hours on foot). It truly is a village that almost feels “suspended” in time with small individual houses dotted on rocky terrain. There are no paved roads, and about 40 people live here throughout the year.


It was interesting to observe and talk to the some of the locals who attended the festival. Some were confused and the older people seemed disappointed that the music wasn’t “dancing” music. The music scene like the place is sort of suspended in time, back several decades ago, and the notion of contemporary music is only beginning to emerge. Despite the different perceptions and encounters between the locals and the performers, there was certainly a sense of integument and wonder.

The point of departure for the DISKO ARTS FESTIVAL and its evolving adventures is the limitless variations the notion of UTOPIAN DESIRE. The theme will be explored by the artists from and in relation to a broad spectrum of philosophical and artistic reflections.


It was a great experience to also speak to some of the local artists. Miké Thomsen (above) was born and raised in Ilulissat. He shared such an interesting perspective about performing abroad in big cities compared to performing in his home town, a place so different in every way to stages in Berlin or Copenhagen. He also spoke about the connections he feels with home – how this environment continues inspired him in different ways.

IMG_5661IMG_5664IMG_5667There was also culinary explorations that took place at the festival! Several chefs were invited to collaborate and experiment with food and cook a feast. As the Art Director said, food is one of the oldest forms of heritage, which is so true, literally brining people together. Food is certainly worth celebrating.