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Digital, Inuit and First Nations cultures come together in AGO’s new youth residency and installation

The Art Gallery of Ontario will host a dynamic artist-in-residence program and installation that will share Canada’s Inuit and First Nations cultures in innovative and interactive ways. Taking place August 7 to 22 in the Gallery as part of the Harbourfront Centre’s Planet IndigenUs festival, Tauqsiijiit, the artist-in-residence program, will involve Inuit and First Nations artists and youth from Canada’s urban, rural and remote communities. The Ilitaravingaa? (Do You Recognize Me?) installation, also presented as part of the festival, will be on view from August 7 to October 31 and will feature contemporary work by Inuit media artists and artist-in-residence participants as well as sculptures from the AGO permanent collection.

Through community video and new media production, Tauqsiijiit – Inuktitut for the people who exchange objects and ideas – will explore Inuit and First Nations identities. In a temporary media lab in the AGO’s contemporary galleries, artists and young people from Iqaluit, Igloolik, Manitoulin Island, James Bay, Ottawa and Toronto will create media works to contribute to the Ilitaravingaa? (Do You Recognize Me?) installation. Visitors will be invited in to the media lab, constructed to replicate the appearance and atmosphere of a northern youth drop-in center, to interact with artists and young people as they create media works. Residency participants will also share their explorations of Toronto, the AGO and the Planet IndigenUs festival with friends and family in their home communities through daily transmissions on the Internet through the live journal TauqTalk (www.TBA.com). In addition, Inuit and First Nations artists will drop in to the space for workshops with youth residents, including Cree media artist Daybi, of the rising Canadian Hip Hop crew Slangblossom who will lead a session on art of DJing.

In an adjacent contemporary gallery, the Ilitiravingaa? (Do You Recognize Me?) installation will showcase contemporary Inuit video productions, sound art and new media creations, and incorporate the work of artist-in-residence participants. To celebrate the AGO’s recent acquisition of the video series Nunavut (Our Land) by Igloolik Isuma Productions, the internationally acclaimed creators of Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner), the13-part series will be screened on an ongoing basis in a summer tent crafted by an Iqaluit elder. This tent, surrounded by pebbles to create an environment reminiscent of an Arctic shore, will be installed next to a virtual Qarmaq, a large circular formation of Inuit sculptures meant to symbolize the remnants of an Inuit ancestral home. Visitors will be able to enter this circle and experiment with a remote audio station in which they can generate their own soundtrack of sounds and stories from audio works created by the Tauqsiijiit residents. In a separate booth in this space, Arctic Phonographies, field recordings of the Arctic’s acoustic environment created by media artists Jayson Kunnuk and Katarina Soukup, will transport visitors to locations such as the inside of a fishing hole or the back of a moving sled.

Participanting youth organizations include Tungasuvvingat Inuit (Ottawa), 7th Generation Image Makers (Toronto), De-Ba-Jeh-Mu-Jig Theatre Group (Wikwemikong) and The Iqaluit Arts Collaborative (Nunavut). Tauqsiijiit artist mentors include Igloolik Isuma Productions, De-Ba-Jeh-Mu-Jig Theatre Group, 7th Generation Image Makers, Siqiniq Productions and Daybi.

Illitarivingaa? Do You Recognize Me? and the Tauqsiijiit residency is generously supported by the Volunteers of the Art Gallery of Ontario with assistance from First Air. The Tauqsiijiit media lab is presented in partnership with Charles Street Video.

Additional support for this project has been received by The Canada Council for the Arts, Department of Canadian Heritage through the Museum Assistance Program, Harbourfront Centre and the Woodland Cultural Centre, the Judith Mastai Fund, the Nunavut Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth, the Ontario Arts Council, Victoria University at the University of Toronto and Vtape.

Planet IndigenUs is a ten-day international multi-disciplinary arts festival running from August 13 to August 22, 2004 at the Harbourfront Centre and the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford, Ontario. A number of cultural institutions are partnering with Planet IndigenUs with complementary innovative Indigenous art programming to create a citywide celebration throughout the summer of 2004. These partners include: the Art Gallery of Ontario, The Bata Shoe Museum, the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, the Royal Conservatory of Music and The Textile Museum of Canada. For further information the public can call 416-973-4000 or visit www.harbourfrontcentre.com/planetindigenus.

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For media information or visuals, please call:
Andrew Riley, 416-979-6660, ext. 403, Andrew_Riley@ago.net
Antonietta Mirabelli, 416-979-6660, ext. 454, Antonietta_Mirabelli@ago.net
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