Máhccan/Homecoming: songs from Karasjok/Kárášjohka (Northern Sami)

Join us for a revival journey in Northern Sami with artists from Karasjok who keep yoiking alive through their music and performance. Yoik is a form of song tradition of the Sami people whose meaning transcends its musical and poetic dimensions. This cultural expression is deeply connected to land, livelihood, and place for the Sami people, exemplified through their relationship with reindeer.

Yoik is a way of naming and remembering people, and of bringing to life places, animals, and other aspects of the environment. Songs often concern certain places, or animals, the wolf, and the reindeer. It has a referential function, whereby the yoik is an arbitrary but powerful signifier for that very object.

From repression to now sold-out concerts, the history of yoik is a complex one. In this film we see yoik through the eyes of the band Rolffa and the music producer Rolf Amundsen, the narration of Jo Morten Kåven and the amazing footage from Jan Helmer Olsen and many thanks to Krizia Bassanini, who helped us put this film together as sound producer and editor.

The artwork featured in the film by Jo Morten Kåven is encaustic art, or otherwise known as hot wax painting, which involves using a heated encaustic medium to which coloured pigments have been added for creating artworks. In the case of his work, where he adds pigments to wax, the effect is remarkable and, in his work, he delves into Sami mythology, landscape and of course reindeers.

For an excellent resource on yoik, read Thomas Hilder, Sámi Musical Performance and the Politics of Indigeneity in Northern Europe, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2014