May 10, 2019 - National Gallery of Canada - Isuma
May 10, 2019

National Gallery of Canada

Isuma, 2019. Installation view at the Canada Pavilion for the 58th Venice Biennale, May 2019. Courtesy of the National Gallery of Canada and Isuma Distribution International. Photo: Francesco Barasciutti

Canada Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
May 11–November 24, 2019

Canada Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
Instagram: National Gallery of Canada / Instagram: Isuma

“In today’s contentious global media environment, when millions of people have been driven from their homes worldwide, Isuma media art in the UN Year of Indigenous Languages sees the forced relocation of families from an Inuit point of view. The video installation One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk recreates an encounter on Baffin Island in April 1961 when one Inuit family was ordered to move off the land. From the same place, 58 years later, Isuma webcasts Silakut Live from the Floe Edge as a multinational mining company plans a railroad and supertanker shipping past today’s Inuit communities of Igloolik and Pond Inlet. Our name Isuma means 'to think,' a state of thoughtfulness, intelligence or an idea. Isuma illuminates the consequences of Canada's relocation of Inuit in the 1950s and 60s in order to reclaim history today and imagine a different future.”

The National Gallery of Canada is proud to present an exhibition by Isuma, the artist collective led by Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn at the Venice Biennale 2019, which features a three-part project consisting of One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk, Isuma Online and Silakut Live from the Floe Edge.

Curators Asinnajaq ᐊᓯᓐᓇᐃᔭᖅ, Catherine Crowston, Josée Drouin-Brisebois, Barbara Fischer and Candice Hopkins said in a joint statement: “Working against persistent historic trauma, Isuma's practice recovers and sustains stories, language and traditions. Isuma creates contemporary forms of gathering places, through television broadcast, the internet, documentaries and fiction films. Our work as a curatorial team is guided by the collective’s values. We are inspired by the ways in which Isuma’s media activism forges networks among Indigenous peoples and beyond, thoughtfully mobilizing new communities of resistance. The artists’ presentation in Venice offers models of radical inclusivity and digital democracy. We feel that these media works link the social, cultural and political effects of dislocation and are particularly resonant in our present moment—a time that affords great mobility to a privileged few and forced dislocation for many.”

One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk (4K digital video installation, 112 minutes, Inuktitut-English 2019)
In April 1961 in Kapuivik, north Baffin Island, Noah Piugattuk’s nomadic Inuit band live and hunt by dog team as his ancestors did when he was born in 1900. When the white government agent known as Boss arrives at Piugattuk’s hunting camp, what appears as a chance meeting soon opens up the prospect of momentous change.

Isuma Online
Isuma Online features a collection of subtitled Isuma and other Indigenous-language films on iTunes in 30 countries; Silakut Live from the Floe Edge webcasts; the complete archive of Igloolik’s Inuktitut video production since 1985; and more than 7,000 international Indigenous films and videos in 75 languages; as well as a free exhibition catalogue. lsumaTV’s network of local servers in remote Inuit communities makes the exhibition available in regions where high-costs and low-bandwidths prevent fair access to internet media.

Silakut Live from the Floe Edge
58 years after Boss ordered Piugattuk off his homeland, a mining company proposes a railroad across Baffin Island to ship 30 million tons of iron ore annually by supertanker through walrus breeding grounds within view of Piugattuk’s former home site at Kapuivik. Isuma will webcast Silakut Live from the Floe Edge, consulting Igloolik hunting families on the impact and benefits of the iron mine’s proposed expansion. Silakut Live brings global media transparency to the consequences of forced relocation. A schedule of webcasts can be found at

Isuma was commissioned by the National Gallery of Canada and presented in partnership with the Canada Council for the Arts and the National Gallery of Canada Foundation. Canadian representation at Venice Biennale 2019 is made possible through the Canadian Artists in Venice Endowment at the National Gallery of Canada Foundation and with the generous financial support of Presenting Sponsor Royal Bank of Canada, Canada Council for the Arts, Government of Canada, and private contributions.

Press enquiries
North America: Josée-Britanie Mallet, National Gallery of Canada, bmallet [​at​]
International: Rebecca Chuang, Pickles PR, rebecca [​at​]
Isuma: Cecilia Greyson, Isuma Distribution International, cecilia [​at​]

National Gallery of Canada
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