Group Exhibition Land of None / Land of Us

CONTACT Gallery ⁠ accessible_forward
80 Spadina Ave, Ste 205
Metro Hall ⁠ accessible_forward
Structure on King St W at John St
Oct 1–28
Reception
October 1, 7pm–7am
    Yael Bar Cohen, Óalgengt, 2021. Courtesy of the artist

Land of None / Land of Us is a showcase of contemporary photography by 36 circumpolar artists, presented at CONTACT Gallery (October 1 – 28) and outdoors at Metro Hall (September 30 – October 14). A featured exhibition of the Arctic Arts Summit, the project will launch at both locations as part of Nuit Blanche, on October 1, from 7pm to 7am. The exhibition challenges the idea of an “unoccupied” or “vast, empty” Arctic, by sharing images of Indigenous and other northerners’ connections to land, knowledges, practices, relationships and kinships around the circumpolar world, firmly establishing that we have always been here.

Regardless of the borders that we live between, Indigenous people of the circumpolar North share a common understanding: the land and its fluctuations are paramount to our livelihood. Our connection to the land shapes our everyday lives, values, traditions and art, and very little of these aspects of us are shaped by modern-day colonial boundaries.

The exhibition title Land of None / Land of Us refers to the Lockean principles of land ownership dating back to the 1600s, which gave colonizers the lawful right to claim Indigenous land by naming it “Terra Nullius,” meaning land belonging to no one. These Lockean principles allowed for colonial advancement in, among others, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Nordic countries. Indigenous communities today still struggle to obtain ownership of the land, and are fighting foreign and domestic companies, supported by the colonizing states, that are establishing mines, pipelines, oil rigs, windmills, fishing farms and tourist expansion on their lands and in their fjords.

These principles are in conflict with Indigenous ways of being and are defined by the notion that we are separate from the land. That we need to take care of it or protect it from human presence. Indigenous beliefs center the opposite. We are the same as the land, the animals, and the water. We are thriving. The land is us.

This exhibition challenges how our homelands have been wrongfully labeled Terra Nullius—land of no one, and highlights the Indigenous inhabitants and guardians of the land who have dwelled here for thousands of years. In the exhibition, you will notice that the areas are introduced by their original names in the original languages of the areas.

Land of None / Land of Us features Indigenous photographers inspired by their Northern landscapes and our ongoing presence and engagement with these lands and waters. Combining the genres of lifestyle, documentary, landscape and portrait photography, these accomplished photographers create a collection of images that reflect each photographer’s Indigenous culture from within their traditional territories.

ARTISTS

Eldred Allen (Inuit Nunaat); Kristian Binder (Sápmi); Yael Bar Cohen (Iceland); Ørjan Marakatt Bertelsen (Sápmi); Anders Berthelsen (Inuit Nunaat); Arlyn Charlie (Gwich’in); Minnie Clark (Tlingit homelands); Iris Egilsdatter Somby (Sápmi); Marita Kristin Eilertsen Tøsse (Sápmi); Anne Katja Gaup (Sápmi); Sergey Gavrilov (Sápmi); Maureen Gruben (Inuit Nunaat); Heida Helgadottir (Iceland); Deenaalee Hodgdon (Deg Xit’an Dené, Anvik); Robert Kautuk (Inuit Nunaat); Lucasie Kiatainaq (Inuit Nunaat); Birthinnguaq Lange (Inuit Nunaat); Cody Mantla (Tłı̨chǫ traditional homelands); Jenny Irene Miller (Inupiaq homelands); Angu Motzfeldt (Inuit Nunaat); Ellijah Neeley (Ahtna Athabascan homelands); Steve Nilsen (Sápmi); Millie Olsen (Mayo homelands); Golga Oscar (Yup’ik homelands); Malaya Qaunirq Chapman (Inuit Nunaat); Christian Sølbeck (Inuit Nunaat); Agnieszka Sosnowska (Iceland); Kali Spitzer (Lək̓ʷəŋən homelands); Meeka Steen (Inuit Nunaat); Jamie Stevenson (Tłı̨chǫ traditional homelands); David Stewart (Settler/Scottish in Inuvik); Lada Suomenrinne (Sápmi); Carson Tagoona (Inuit Nunaat); Morgan Tsetta (Denendeh); Carl-Johan Utsi (Sápmi); Ukjese Van Kampen (Champagne and Aishihik First Nations land)

Curated by Melissa Shaginoff (Ahtna & Paiute), Dgheyey Kaq’, Alaska; Jennifer Bowen (Dene), Denendeh; Alice Marie Jektevik (Sámi), Áttir, Sápmi; Jessica Winters (Inuk), Inuit, Nunaat. Project Mentor: Pat Kane (Anishinaabe), Denendeh

Presented by Inuit Art Foundation and Inuit Futures in partnership with Nuit Blanche and CONTACT