From the Editor
Four years ago the Inuit Art Quarterly asked: Could the Venice Biennale be a place for Inuit art? At the time, the response from domestic and international curators and artists alike was enthusiastic, if open-ended. In the ensuing years, Inuit art has continued to gain ground and claim inclusion on the international stage.
Between 2017 and 2018 alone, Annie Pootoogook (1969–2016), Shuvinai Ashoona,
RCA and others have featured prominently in major contemporary exhibitions, including
Kananginak Pootoogook, RCA (1935–2010), who was the first Inuit artist in history to be featured at the Venice Biennale for the group exhibition Viva Arte Viva (2017), mounted in the city’s historic Arsenale. Still, even now in 2019, it is frustratingly rare for an Inuit artist or collective to be given pride of place in a major solo exhibition outside of Canada.
What an immense achievement and marker it is then to be launching this issue to coincide with the opening of the Canada Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale featuring the work of the incomparable artist collective Isuma, who have forever changed the landscape of Inuit film and established a new cannon of moving image–based practice in Canada.
Isuma’s films are undeniably their own. They are made and financed on their own terms, realized often in spite of funding shortfalls, challenging environmental conditions and in opposition to an industry that demands widespread marketability. Isuma’s films are and have always been created by and for Inuit. As a result of the collective’s singular and uncompromising vision to celebrate and capture Inuit stories, lived experiences and visions, Isuma has created new spaces for Inuit film to thrive, with dedicated mentorship and collaboration. Because of Isuma, the immense contributions of Inuit filmmakers working throughout Inuit Nunangat have been made more visible.
It is through this lens that we bring you the
IAQ’s themed issue on Film.
Our Feature stories highlight a range of artistic practices rooted in the possibilities
of moving image–based work. Chief Curator of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection Sarah Milroy reflects on the legacy of Isuma’s early work, including the deeply collaborative nature of their filmmaking, while Manager and Curator of the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum Jessica Kotierk investigates the expanse of the Isuma archive at the National Gallery of Canada. Blandina Attaarjuaq Makkik, Igloo Tag Coordinator, writes on the impact of film and television within the community of Iglulik, NU, primarily through the activities of the women’s film collective
Arnait Video Productions. Editor-at-Large Taqralik Partridge shares the work of Vancouver-based artist Lindsay McIntyre, whose work in 16 mm film and handmade emulsions are perhaps more closely aligned to drawing than filmmaking and an expansive
Profile by Managing Editor Evan Pavka, alongside Contributing Editors Napatsi Folger and Emily Henderson, introduces exciting early career film artists working across the circumpolar North and beyond today. Finally, we turn our attention to the place of Inuit and other Indigenous artists on the international stage with features on Kananginak Pootoogook’s late work by Robert Kardosh and a brief history of the presence of international Indigenous ar tists at the Venice Biennale by
Dr. Heather Igloliorte.
While it is impossible to fully capture the movement, sound and feeling of film on a page, I hope the artists and works you encounter here will inspire you to seek out, immerse yourself and be transported by their stories.
Britt Gallpen Editorial Director
Turn to page 40 to revisit the collective history of Isuma on the advent of their representation of Canada at the 2019 Venice Biennale COURTESY ISUMA DISTRIBUTION INTERNATIONAL INC. PHOTO LEVI UTTAK