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Inuuteq Storch Exhibition Opens in Danish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

Apr 17, 2024
by IAQ

When the Danish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale opens to the public this week, it will usher in a series of historic firsts: Inuuteq Storch, the photographer chosen to represent Denmark at the Biennale, is the first Kalaaleq artist to present a major exhibition in the Danish Pavilion. Storch is also the youngest artist ever to represent Denmark in Venice and the first photographer to do so. Nevertheless, his approach to the exhibition is deeply marked by notions of photographic legacy, turning to family albums, archives, histories of Kalaallit photographers and intimate snapshots of everyday life to explore how photography has shaped both personal and national identity in Kalaallit Nunaat.

Storch’s project, Rise of the Sunken Sun, curated by Louise Wolthers, Head of Research and Curator at the Hasselblad Foundation, responds directly to the relationship between Denmark and Kalaallit Nunaat (Greenland), alluding in its title—and in installation gestures that punctuate the selection of photographs inside the exhibition—to the Greenlandic flag.

Inuuteq Storch portrait_Credit Inuuteq Storch

Portrait of Inuuteq Storch
© the artist

A graduate of the International Centre of Photography in New York and the Fatamorgana School of Photography in Copenhagen, Storch creates work that navigates his Kalaaleq identity. He has exhibited widely across Europe and North America, including in multiple solo exhibitions, and created a series of photobooks through which he showcases his projects.

His project in Venice features works from six thematic series taken on various cameras and reconfigured in site-specific formats, including sonic accompaniments. The projects range from Storch’s early series At Home We Belong (2010-15) and Keepers of the Ocean (2019), which depict scenes of contemporary Kalaallit life, to the recent projects Soon Will Summer be Over (2023) and Necromancer (2024). Soon Will Summer be Over documents the effects of climate change, colonization and Inuit hunting and fishing traditions in Qaanaaq, the northernmost town in Kalaallit Nunaat, and the Necromancer series was undertaken during the COVID-19 pandemic and addresses themes of spirituality and connection.

In the ongoing series Sunsets of Forgotten Moments, Storch brings together an expansive collection of amateur photographs from his own family dating from the 1940s to the 2000s, testifying to the role of vernacular photography in greater histories of image-making by Inuit. Storch’s interest in the history of Kalaallit photography is also clear in Mirrored (2021), a digitized compilation of works by John Møller (1967–1935), Kalaallit Nunaat’s first professional photographer and a documenter of Danish officials, workers, priests and bureaucrats who visited Kalaallit Nunaat between the 1880s and1930s.

As Storch describes in a press release, “Greenland and its inhabitants have been massively photographed since the mid-1800s. But the majority of these images have been captured by foreigners; visitors to Greenland, and are often a form of documentation or registration of my country, Greenlandic people, and Greenlandic culture.”

From the series Soon Will Summer be Over (2023). Image credit Inuuteq Storch

Inuuteq Storch from the series Soon Will Summer be Over (2023) © THE ARTIST

Countering colonial narratives and preconceptions about Kalaallit Nunaat is central to Storch’s practice, who explains that his work in Venice is “an opportunity to explore Greenland through my lens. I extend an invitation to the public, welcoming them to visit my home and experience the nuanced narrative I aim to convey through my art.”

Storch’s intimate photographic invitations are complemented by installation gestures that underline the importance of Kalaallit sovereignty: over the stone-inscribed “DANMARK” that graces the pavilion’s facade, he mounts a transparent sign reading “Kalaallit Nunaat.” In the pavilion’s courtyard, he reproduces a large panoramic view of Sisimiut, Kalaallit Nunaat, as seen from his own home, complete with hammocks from which audiences may contemplate his hometown, occupying the imitate position of houseguest and visitor.  

Rise of the Sunken Sun is presented at the Danish Pavilion of the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia from April 20 to November 24, 2024. A new photo book Inuuteq Storch: Rise of the Sunken Sun will be published by Strandberg Publishing to accompany the exhibition, with an introduction by Louise Wolthers, an essay by Inuit Art Foundation Board President Dr. Heather Igloliorte and representations of all the works in the exhibition.

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