The 2019 representative artist for the Canada Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale has just been announced by the National Gallery of Canada. The Inuit Art Foundation is delighted to report that the artist collective Isuma will be representing Canada. This is the second time Inuit artists have been presented at the fair. The IAQ previously reported Kananginak Pootoogook's participation in the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017.
Isuma was co-founded in 1990 by Zacharias Kunuk, Pauloosie Qulitalik, Paul Apak Angilirq and Norman Cohn. Their cinematic work has been celebrated all over the world, most notably winning the Caméra d’or for Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner in May 2001 at Cannes.
In 2002 both Atanarjuat and Nunavut (Our Land), a 13-part TV series, were shown at documenta11 in Kassel, Germany. Isuma’s second feature, The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, opened the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, and its third feature, Before Tomorrow, written and directed by Igloolik’s Arnait Video Productions women’s collective, was screened in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.
Isuma, also currently celebrating their 30th year, was featured on the cover of the IAQ's 25th Anniversary issue in 2011. In 2016 the IAF was proud to sponsor Isuma's 2017 release Maliglutit (Searchers) as part of the 17th annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. The film went on to win Best Indigenous Language Production. Most recently, the IAQ featured Kunuk as an elder artist in our 30th Anniversary issue’s 30 Artists to Know portfolio.
“Inuit went from Stone Age to Digital Age in my lifetime,” said Kunuk in a statement. “Everything is taught by what you see. Your father's fixing up the harpoon; you watch how he does it and you learn from it. For the medium I work in now, it was the same. Oral history and new technology match. I am trying to do this with my videos — tell the story behind how we lived. We try to make everything authentic so a hundred years from now when people see our films they’ll know how to do it.”
Exhibitions for the Venice Biennale are commissioned by the National Gallery of Canada and produced in partnership with the Canada Council for the Arts.