We are here in Venice for the opening of the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. More precisely, we are here for the opening of the first Canadian Pavillion in the history of the world’s premier art show to showcase the work of Inuit artists.
This historic moment seems even more poignant at this remove from the Canadian cultural landscape, where the Inuit’s presence is something we take for granted. But on a world stage featuring 90 countries, Nunavut seems even that much more remote and the prodigious artistic output of the tiny Inuit population seems that much more remarkable.
The setting couldn’t be more fitting. The permanent Canadian Pavillion here was built in 1958, but was in a state of disrepair when it was effectively shuttered in 2014.
For 2019, the Pavillion has been revitalized. And the first showcase artist is the Isuma collective, co-founded by Zacharias Kunuk, Paul Apak Angilirq and Norman Cohn, the famed creators of such films as Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner.
Here in Venice, their work for the Biennale is still very much under wraps with the opening fast approaching. They are going against the grain by taking a feature-length narrative film to the Pavillion. This is a rare happening at the Biennale and is sure to stir much discussion.
We are eager to see Isuma take its rightful place on the world stage tomorrow. More to come.
The Isuma Collective’s exhibition at the 58th Venice Biennale Arte has its official opening on May 8th. The Pavillion is open to the public from May 11-November 13, 2019
Joel Sears, Feheley blogger
Venice, May 7, 2019