A sneak peek at some current and upcoming exhibitions and projects.
A behind-the-scenes look at some notable projects
MAY 28—AUGUST 23, 2020
Arctic: culture and climate British Museum
Bringing together the largest and most diverse circumpolar collection ever displayed in the UK, Arctic: culture and climate will examine the relationship between the land, animals and people that make up the Arctic Circle, and the response of each to dramatic changes wrought by seasonal weather and human-caused climate change. Curated by Amber Lincoln, the exhibit mixes archaeological finds with artifacts from early points of contact, including a car ved Evenki spirit mask made from a seventeenth century Russian icon, and contemporary works by Simon Tookoome, Piita Irniq, Fedor Markov, George Flowers, Annie Pootoogook, Andrew Qappik and Kenojuak Ashevak, among others. We spoke with photographer Kiliii Yuyan, known for his captivating images, to learn more:
The majority of my pieces in this exhibit come from a four-year project I did about Iñupiat whaling on the Alaskan North Slope. The images and the film are about the identity of Iñupiat around whaling, and a glimpse at what life is like for specific hunters out on the sea ice. The photographs look at the boats everyone uses, called skin boats—umiat—and the life of camping with everyone gathered together in a community fashion to hunt whales on the ice. My parents are refugees, so I’m divorced from my homeland and my community. In a way, this work lets me hang out with a community that I haven’t really gotten a chance to see since I was a young child. What first brought me up to the North, however, was kayaks and umiaqs. My culture builds kayaks, and I’ve built kayaks from communities all across the Arctic and subArctic. I wanted to hang out with elders and people who were still building the boats and had the knowledge of it—those who still knew how to sew the skin and how to use the umiaq. I wanted to go to Greenland and chill out with the guys that do kayak rolls. Probably the most important influence in my photographs is being pulled into different cultures and the ways that everyone interacts with their kayaks and umiaqs.
Last year I was so busy that I didn’t have the opportunity to process that my work would be used as promotional photos for this exhibit. But it’s exciting to see my work very large on the side of a building.
OPENING FALL 2020
Inuit Art Centre Winnipeg Art Gallery
Af ter breaking ground in May of 2018, the Inuit Ar t Centre at the Winnipeg Ar t Gallery is on track to open in late 2020. Designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture, the building features 40,000 sq ft in exhibition space as well as educational spaces including classrooms, art studios and a three-story-high glass vault. Filled with thousands of sculptures, this unique element will offer visitors a one-of-a kind viewing experience, supplemented with digital navigating and storytelling opportunities to enhance public understanding of the unique works on display. To learn more, we reached out to Rachel Baerg, Head of Learning & Programs:
We’re thrilled to bring our collection of Inuit sculptures from the basement vault out where visitors will be able to access and engage with them like never before. The visible glass vault will house over 5,000 carvings representing artists and communities across Northern Canada and beyond. Our goal is to activate the vault, allowing visitors to self-navigate the collection, identify specific works of interest and even curate their own collections. In addition, for those interested in more in-depth explorations of artwork, our digital vault platform will serve to ‘animate’ the collection through interactive maps, artist profiles, videos, artist interviews and other unique multimedia applications.
Given the scope, for this first phase we will be focusing on creating multimedia interactives for 100–150 pieces in the vault. These works will become the subject of ‘art stories’ and offer a gateway into our collection, providing greater consideration of their historical, social and cultural context. These stories will be presented via a web-based portal that can be accessed both in situ on terminals around the vault as well as online through our website.
Key to this project, funded by the Canada Council for the Arts Digital Strategy Fund, will be bringing Inuit voices to the forefront to share stories related to their artwork, their culture and their land. We’re excited to be working with Inuit artists, knowledge keepers, storytellers and students to bring these works of art to life. It’s a big project and we see this as just the beginning of something very exciting!
MARCH 14—JUNE 8, 2020
Biennale of Sydney Various Locations
Curated by Brook Andrew, the 22nd Sydney Biennale, Nirin, brings together works by close to one hundred artists, creatives and collectives and draws its name from the Wiradjuri word for edge. This much anticipated project promises an all-star lineup of internationally acclaimed artists with a heavy emphasis on Indigenous artists from around the globe. This year will also feature a number of artists with ties to the circumpolar region including Nicholas Galanin, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, collective Suohpanterror, Aslaug Magdalena Juliussen, Sissel M. Bergh and Anders Sunna as well as Nunivimmiuk Taqralik Partridge. We caught up with Partridge in Kautokeino,
Norway, as she was putting the final touches on her project for the biennale:
I met Brook [Andrew] in Kautokeino last year as part of the SápmiToo event organized by Dáiddadáilu Sámi Artist Collective and the Office of Contemporary Art, Norway. Brook was there with Wanda Nanibush, Curator of Indigenous Art, from the Art Gallery of Ontario. For the biennale I’m doing a series of six beaded pieces, called apirsait (Helper Spirits). Aaju Peter was talking about the name for these spirits recently, and I was happy to hear what they were called. I’m stuck on that kidney shape, I just like it! Like my other work, I’m trying to use whatever materials are available to me, what’s in my kitchen—materials that are both significant and not significant. The helper spirits are animals that are important to me—arctic fox, caribou, walrus, polar bear, raven—and the sixth, which I’m creating to be touched and is primarily for the those who can’t see, will likely be an Australian animal. Also as part of my participation, I’ll be performing and I have a poem wall-installation at Artspace in English, Inuktitut (in both roman and syllabics) and Darug— an Indigenous language local to the Sydney region. It’s a short poem I wrote in Toronto, ON. As part of the Arctic/Amazon Symposium I was asked to do a response to another artist Denilson Baniwa. For Sydney I had it translated/adapted by Ida Saunders and the organizers had it adapted by Warmuli/ Cannemegal writer Corina Marino into her language. Corina has also written a response poem. I think both will be displayed in the gallery. There will be a catalogue and an art book where some of my writing will appear.
– Taqralik Partridge
BELOW Kiliii Yuyan (b. 1979 Seattle) — Umiaq and north wind during spring whaling 2019 Inkjet print 30 × 20 cm
LEFT Oviloo Tunnillie (1949–2014 Kinngait) — Grieving Woman 1997 Stone 35 × 12.5 × 11.3 cm
MIDDLE Davidialuk Alasua Amittu (1910–1976 Puvirnituq) — Mythological Bird 1958 Stone 43.4 × 38.2 × 16.5 cm
RIGHT Joseph Patterk (b. 1912 Kangiqliniq) Legend of the Family Who Traveled on a Wild Goose 1966 Ceramic 36 × 25 × 45 cm
LEFT Taqralik Partridge (Kuujjuaq/Kautokeino) — apirsait 2020 Mixed-media installation Dimensions variable