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  • Oct 14, 2015
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  • Comments Off on Curator’s essay: Arctic Echoes, Arctic Noises

The following curatorial text accompanies Geronimo Inutiq’s ARCTICNOISE on view November 6 to December 5, 2015. Co-curated by Britt Gallpen and Yasmin Nurming-Por.

ARCTICNOISE is an immersive, audio and visual media installation by Geronimo Inutiq (madeskimo). More …


Arctic Echoes, Arctic Noises

On the evening of Dec. 28, 1967 the CBC Radio programme “Ideas” first broadcast “The Idea of North”, an experimental “contrapuntal radio documentary” by celebrated Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. The piece, which runs just shy of an hour, carefully interweaves the voices of various characters, including: an anthropologist; sociologist; prospector; government employee; nurse and surveyor, to form a complex narrative centered on the idea of the North vs. the reality of lived experience. The documentary is comprised of voices from “individuals with direct experience of the North.” Gould, himself notes:

“I’ve long been intrigued by that incredible tapestry of tundra and taiga which constitutes the Arctic and Subarctic of our country. I’ve read about it, written about it and even pulled up my parka once and gone there; yet, like all but a very few Canadians, I’ve had no real experience of the North. I’ve remained, of necessity, an outsider. And the North has remained for me a convenient place to dream about, spin tall tales about, and in the end, avoid.”

Gould produces, through his narrators, a broadcast about the North for a southern audience that corresponds to both his own investment in researching solitude and to depicting aversion of arctic life devoid of community. Tellingly, for the majority of southern Canadians who have spent a lifetime dreaming of the North, this dream remains both romantic and elusive, shaped largely by the depictions, fictions and visions by various governing and pedagagical bodies. Gould’s Idea of North is one such example in a long line of “Arctic Imaginings” that privilege an abstracted representation of the North, at the expense of allowing circumpolar peoples a platform to tell their own story. The ongoing perpetuation and power of these representations provided the impetus for a different kind of imaging of the North, and therein ARCTICNOISE.

Following a series of discussions and meetings in Montreal and Toronto, artist Geronimo Inutiq and co-curators Britt Gallpen and Yasmin Nurming-Por began a process of collective research into the relationships amongst Gould’s representations and more contemporaneous representations of the North, as well as the role of technology in disseminating these identity-based constructions. This early research led to the identification of the Igloolik Isuma Archive at the National Gallery of Canada as the ideal research site for the project, chosen for the breadth and variety of its holdings in cinema and television. Igloolik Isuma Productions, Canada’s first Inuit production company, was incorporated by Zacharias Kunuk, Paul Apak Angilirq, Pauloosie Qulitalik and Norman Cohn in Igloolik, Nunavut in 1990.

This project seeks to provoke dialogues about the changing role of representation beyond fixed identity categories. As an immersive installation, ARCTICNOISE aims to address both abstracted historical and contemporaneous ideas of the North through conflating modes, mediums and methods of representation. Additionally, as an ongoing modular work, ARCTICNOISE will shift formats in subsequent exhibitions, thereby purposefully negating any concrete or authoritative understandings of what the North is or might become..

Written by co-curators, Britt Gallpen and Yasmin Nurming-Por

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