Jessie Kleemann’s Art of Survival


  • David W. Norman


In her work as an educator, actor, poet and visual artist, Jessie Kleemann has persistently expanded the limits of arts discourse in Kalaallit Nunaat, not least through her unique approach to body art informed by historical Kalaallit theatrical forms and antimimetic dramaturgy. Emphasizing how Kleemann’s embodied practice prompts reflection on the potential for action amid environmental collapse, this essay situates her work alongside schools of thought that have theorized the body during moments of crisis. I focus on Kleemann’s early experimentation with analog video and recent ecocritical poetry, aligning her work with traditions ranging from ancestral Inuit performance genres to post-1945 action art and contemporary practices advocating on behalf of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Kleemann’s methods, refracted through these traditions, place embodied action at the center of efforts to form more ethical relations.


David W. Norman

David W. Norman is a Forsyth Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the History of Art Department at the University of Michigan. He received his PhD from the University of Copenhagen in 2021, and he is currently finishing a book on experimental art and self-determination in Home Rule-era Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland). His writing on modern and contemporary art has been published in Kritik, Kunst og Kultur, First American Art Magazine and Neriusaaq.


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W. Norman, D. (2022). Jessie Kleemann’s Art of Survival. Peripeti, 19(37), 30–43. Hentet fra