In­sur­gence/Resur­gence Win­nipeg Art Gallery

Inuit Art Quarterly - - HIGHLIGHTS - – Heather Camp­bell

Heather Camp­bell is one of ten artists com­mis­sioned to cre­ate new works for this land­mark ex­hi­bi­tion cu­rated by Julie Nagam and Jaimie Isaac. We hear from the artist on how she has re­sponded to the ex­hi­bi­tion’s cen­tral tenets of “hope, self­de­ter­mi­na­tion, re­newal and a re­vi­sion­ing of Canada”: Methylmer­cury deals with the Muskrat Falls hy­dro­elec­tric dam cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion in Labrador. A study by Har­vard Univer­sity con­cluded that if the area was flooded be­fore re­mov­ing veg­e­ta­tion and top­soil, the re­sult­ing lev­els of methylmer­cury would con­tam­i­nate the nat­u­ral food sup­ply of those liv­ing down­stream, in­clud­ing the Inuit com­mu­nity of Rigo­let—my home­town. In this paint­ing, the sea god­dess Nu­li­a­juk (Sedna) sym­bol­izes the sa­cred re­spect we have for our ocean and its crea­tures. As the ul­ti­mate sym­bol of fe­male power in Inuit cul­tures across the Arc­tic, she unites us, no mat­ter what re­gion we are from. The top of the paint­ing is cov­ered with a black mass, con­tain­ing sym­bols of death. A hand reaches out, grab­bing Nu­li­a­juk by the neck and forc­ing the poi­son down her throat. Here, Nu­li­a­juk also sym­bol­izes the on­go­ing vi­o­lence our In­dige­nous women face. The red tape bind­ing her wrists al­ludes to the In­quiry into Miss­ing and Mur­dered In­dige­nous Women and the re­cent con­vic­tions for the mur­der of Nu­natsi­avum­miut Loretta Saun­ders. I feel that we are on the cusp of a shift in Inuit art. For so long Inuit art and cul­ture were used as em­blems of Cana­di­ana, but we are now re­claim­ing our sym­bols and us­ing them to re­sist col­o­niza­tion.

Heather Camp­bell (b. 1973 Rigo­let/Ot­tawa) — LEFT Methylmer­cury (Work in Progress) 2017 Ink on min­eral paper 71.1 × 48.3 cm COUR­TESY THE ARTIST Geron­imo Inu­tiq (b. 1979 Mon­treal) — BE­LOW Film stills of En­sem­ble/En­core 2017 Video COUR­TESY THE ARTIST

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