#callresponse Blackwood Gallery
This multifaceted project includes a touring exhibition with locally responsive programming, a website, social-media platform and catalogue. Illuminating work that is both urgent and enduring, #callresponse centres Indigenous women within discussion and action around Indigenous cultural revitalization, land-based knowledge and cross-cultural solidarity building. Presented in the context of the Blackwood Gallery’s year-long Take Care program, this iteration of the exhibition includes an edit-a-thon of the Inuit Artist Database, co-presented by the Inuit Art Foundation, a panel discussion on the stewardship of land, water and Inuit art and a commissioned billboard by Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory. Co-organizer Tarah Hogue elaborates: Laakkuluk’s work will be featured on the Bernie Miller Lightbox, located outside of the gallery on an exterior wall at the University of Toronto Mississauga campus. The piece captures the artist’s face in profile, covered in black grease paint. It’s positioned so that Laakkuluk will be facing the students as they enter the building and at night the image will be reflected in the adjacent glass windows. Ultimately, we wanted to think about the presence of Inuit art as well as the presence of Inuit bodies on campus. The image is a still taken from her video work Timiga nunalu, sikulu (My body, the land and the ice) (2016), which was one of the five initial commissioned works for #callresponse and shows her preparing the face paint for uaajeerneq (the Greenlandic mask dance). The film was also screened in the response performance that she did with Tanya Tagaq in 2016 as part of the first iteration of #callresponse in Vancouver, BC. Both the video and documentation of the response performance are included in the exhibition at Blackwood. The video can be read in part as challenging the representation of the female body and, in the context of Take Care, pushes us to think about that in relationship to the land and stewardship of it. The image of Laakkuluk in uaajeerneq is fierce and confronting, but so much of that practice is also tied to teaching the younger generation about how to face the extremes of life in the North. It has a deep intergenerational quality to it. Laakkuluk is a second-generation uaajeerneq performer—her mother also did it and that’s who taught her. There is a lot of beautiful nuance to this image.