Isuma Installation view, Pavilion of Canada, 58th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, 2019. Photo : Francesco Galli, courtesy of La Biennale di Venezia

We have mounting evidence that the environment is in crisis — obvious examples being species extinction threatening our earth’s biodiversity, and the dire consequences of anthropogenic global warming.1 1 - IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5C, International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2018; IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Intergovernmental Science-Policy on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), 2019; Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016). These concerns have not gone unnoticed in the art world, where exhibitions dedicated to the “anthropocene” proliferate amongst international and sometimes wasteful biennales.2 2 - Hettie Judah, “There’s a Flood of Climate Change-Related Art at the Venice Biennale. Can It Make a Difference — Or Is It Adding to the Problem?” Artnet News, May 6, 2019, https://news.artnet.com/art-world/climate-change-venice-biennale-1532290. Beyond the aesthetic spectacle of environmental destruction, or the intellectual nihilism of pondering our correlated demise, is a disdain for the environment. How did we humans come to perceive ourselves as so removed from nature that we exploit it to the point of extinction, and what does work dedicated to recovering these bonds look like? Of course the Global North’s view of this relationship changed as a result of settler colonialism, resource extraction, industrialization, and petro-capitalism. These contemporary issues have reached a breaking point in the Arctic Circle, where Indigenous knowledge, misunderstanding, Eurocentric perceptions, and the consequences of our eco-denial are hardest felt. The climate crisis isn’t the only reason we are becoming aware of the importance of an “environmental art history.” Inuit perspectives are making their debut at the 2019 Venice Biennale’s Canada Pavilion, with a project by Isuma, an artist collective that continues the difficult work of representing their land and ways of life to outsiders on their own terms.3 3 - asinnajaq, “Isuma Is a Cumulative Effort,” Canadian Art, April 22, 2019, https://canadianart.ca/features/isuma-is-a-cumulative-effort/.

This article also appears in the issue 97 - Appropriation
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