In July we parked in front of Yellowknife's esteemed commercial gallery; Down to Earth Gallery, in Old Town. We exhibited the performative photographs of Kablusiak.
In 2018, Kablusiak travelled from Mohkinstis/Calgary to Inuvik. It was the first time they visited their ancestral homeland as an adult. There, the artist continued their ‘performative photography’ practice. They dressed as a ghost and inhabited various locations around town.
The ghost is a funny and nostalgic image – the quintessential last-minute Halloween costume. But here, the classic bed-sheet with eye-holes becomes a way for the artist to powerfully enact, confront, and communicate their diasporic identity.
“I use art as a coping mechanism as a diasporic Inuk. But I’m even trying to take that narrative and not make it so much of a bummer. Inuit Diaspora doesn’t have to be such a depressing place. I’m framing it as an opportunity to explore what it is to be an urban Inuk, versus mourning the loss of a culture. I think that’s a colonial concept – to be ‘mourning the loss’ of something that was never really ‘lost’. It’s not like ‘Oh I lost my glasses.’ It is like ‘My glasses were forcibly stolen and smashed in front of me.”
“I use humour in my artwork to lighten the intensity of the emotion that’s put into it.”
- Kablusiak (National Gallery of Canada video for Sobey Art Award, 2019)
27% of Inuit now live in cities outside of Inuit Nunangat (‘where Inuit live’), traditional lands which include Nunavut, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut, and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. Many urban Inuit face challenges of maintaining identity and connection to land, food, knowledge, language and cultural practices.
-Statistic from Tungasuvvingat Inuit Report, 2016