Did Arctic hunting/trapping abolish the traditional gender roles in the 1930s?
The main period for Norwegian overwintering trapping in Svalbard and Greenland was from 1890–1941. In terms of numbers, male hunters/trappers were dominant. They also dominated the stories of hunting life. Nevertheless, both men and women took part in the hunting and trapping.
Wanny and Henry: Hunting and Trapping in the Arctic is based on the stories of Wanny Woldstad and Henry Rudi, who both spent winters as Arctic trappers. Wanny spent five winters in Svalbard, where baked bread, trapped polar bears and lived a dream existence. The "Polar Bear King" Henry made a career out of winter trapping and became legendary for his trapping records.
Did the trapping activities only deal with conquering the Arctic nature and animals? Was it only a woman with a “male heart” who voluntarily chose a life in the expanse of ice? By seeing the trappers’ fields of work in the light of established notions of gender in the Arctic, the exhibition expands on and nuances this traditional image.
The exhibition follows Wanny and Henry on polar bear trapping, through dog keeping, cooking and Christmas preparations, from the trapping terrain and out into the public eye – and across the boundaries of traditional men’s and women’s work.
Polar cultural scientists Lena Aarekol, Marit Anne Hauan, Silje Gaupseth and Anka Ryall, all from UiT the Arctic University of Norway, were behind this exhibition project about gender in Arctic trapping.
The Project Manager/Curator was Silje Gaupseth, while the exhibition was designed by Reibo AS.
The exhibition was funded by the Polar Museum and Troms Country Council.