The inaugural iNuit Blanche is the world’s first all-circumpolar, all-night festival of art, music, dance, performance, installation, food and film on October 8, 2016 in St. John’s, NL. The festival is a play on Nuit Blanche, an all-night arts festival that takes place around the world and in many of Canada’s capital cities.
The festival runs at the same time as Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Nunatsiavut Government’s 20th biennial Inuit Studies Conference and the katingavit inuit arts festival. iNuit Blanche will feature a wide variety of interactive art experiences from Inuit living across the Northern regions of Turtle Island. Over 25 projects by dozens of artists will be on display throughout the night.
Keynote speakers at the conference include Polaris Music Prize-winning throat singer Tanya Tagaq, president of the National Inuit Youth Council Mataali Okalik and president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami Natan Obed, among others. Katingavit will see performances from Inuit artists, as well as workshops, film screenings, discussions and more.
Britt Gallpen is a writer, curator and editor of Inuit Art Quarterly living in Toronto, and is one of the curators of iNuit Blanche. She spoke with New Journeys about the event, how it came to be and the exciting things planned for the night.
Is there a theme to the art projects that will be on display throughout the night?
There is no specific theme, however there is a strong element of collaboration throughout. We have worked to pair emerging and established artists, such as our print exchange and workshop at St. Michael's Print Shop. We have paired a collective of master seamstresses from Pond Inlet, who will be demonstrating their techniques with handsewing sealskin, at Natural Boutique which is St. John's go-to stop for sealskin products.
What is one exhibit you’re particularly excited for? Are there any interactive exhibits that involve members of the public?
One particularly collaborative initiative, Reimagining Nanuq, involves a postcard exchange that members of the public and artists throughout the Arctic have been contributing to. Curated by Hannah Morgan, we will be hosting an event at Eastern Edge on Thursday, October 6 for anyone in St. John's who'd like to contribute.
It seems like with the combination of the MUN Conference, katingavit and iNuit Blanche, St. John’s will be bursting with Inuit culture for three days. How did this collaboration come to be?
The idea for this project came out of the last Inuit Studies conference at Laval University in Quebec City two years ago. That conference had a particularly strong emphasis on the sciences, policy and law. When the city of St. John's was announced as the host for 2016, it seemed a natural fit to really highlight the incredible breadth of Inuit arts and culture in a city that is so widely recognized for its arts scene. Like many exciting projects, this plan was hatched over a glass of wine!
What do you hope to accomplish with this festival in St. John’s this year? Are there plans to hold a similar festival in other locations in the future?
We hope this project inspires the public to learn more about the work of contemporary Inuit artists working today, across the country. In particular, we look forward to sharing the rich cultural contributions of Labrador Inuit artists (who represent a strong showing throughout iNuit Blanche) with the public of St. John's. No plans as of yet for another year, we will have to see how this one goes!