An Iceberg in the Heart of Ottawa
Iluliaq: a monumental work by Greenlandic artist Inuk Silis Høegh
As part of SAKAHÀN: International Indigenous Art
At the National Gallery of Canada
Until September 2, 2013
A massive iceberg has engulfed the Great Hall of the National Gallery of Canada (NGC). The monumental art work, a vibrant contrast to the heat of the summer, was created by Greenlandic artist Inuk Silis Høegh. Entitled Iluliaq [Iceberg], the site-specific installation is part of the NGC’s major summer exhibition Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art, the largest-ever global survey of contemporary Indigenous art. For more information, visit gallery.ca/sakahan.
As visitors approach Iluliaq, they hear the soundscape of cracking and rumbling ice, almost as though they were standing in the path of an actual iceberg. Playing up the effects of trompe-l’oeil, Inuk Silis Høegh did not simply work with a reproduction of an ice formation. Instead, he created an iceberg of his own imagination out of composite images from photographs taken by his father, renowned photographer Ivars Silis. As Høegh explains, “it is a sort of perverse pleasure for me to construct my own iceberg, even if Iluliaq is only illusion and mimicked reality. If you look closer, you might question its credibility. Is that formation really possible? Does gravity allow that protrusion? Would nature really behave this way? Maybe it would, because fortunately the world is vivid and reality exceeds my imagination. So why didn’t I just print an unmanipulated photograph of an ice formation – why did I need to sculpt my image? Is it man’s desire to control nature, to break it up in bits and put it back together? Or maybe it just comforts me that the ice is wild and that it threatens us with its fragility?... Overwhelmed with the realization that I can never grasp the world, I try to construct my own illusion of it. Copy pasting, and repeating the conceptions that I think I know.”
In addition to exploring the duality of reality and fantasy, the artist encourages us to think about the human relationship with our shared environment. Climate change and the resulting glacial melt inspired Iluliaq which relates to earlier projects such as the artist created in Copenhagen at the North Atlantic House during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) in 2009. The rapidly melting polar ice cap is a global concern, and the fragility of the North’s majestic icebergs elicits a protective sympathy, yet in scale and force these ice formations emanate a power that equally can inspire awe and fear. Iluliaq offers visitors a sublime experience even as they are invited to consider whether the iceberg is threatened or threatening.
Constructing Iluliaq [Iceberg]
Made from 56 panels, each ranging from 4.6 to 6 metres wide and 18 to 21 metres tall, the installation completely covers the windows of the Gallery’s Great Hall and took over ten working days to set up. Its total surface area is 4,645.15 square metres.
Melting Iluliaq [Iceberg]
As the Great Hall window replacement project moves forward, Iluliaq will gradually “melt” along with it, beginning at the end of June and completely disappearing in December 2013.
About the artist
Based in Nuuk, Greenland, Inuk Silis Høegh was born 1972 in Qaqortoq, Greenland. He received the Niels Wessel Bagges Grant in 2005 and graduated from the Royal Danish Art Academy in 2010, but had already established himself as an artist and filmmaker in Greenland and Denmark.
In his art Inuk Silis Høegh is often resampling common conceptions and materials in a tongue-in-cheek tone, commenting on feelings of alienation and powerlessness. His art work has been shown in Greenland, Denmark, France, Iceland, Finland, Latvia and Germany and his short films and documentaries on TV and at festivals all around the globe.
Sakahàn is co-curated by Greg Hill, the NGC’s Audain Curator of Indigenous Art; Christine Lalonde, Associate Curator of Indigenous Art; and Candice Hopkins, Elizabeth Simonfay Guest Curator, with the support of an international team of curatorial advisors: Jolene Rickard, Yuh-Yao Wan, Irene Snarby, Arpana Caur, Lee-Ann Martin, Brenda Croft, Megan Tamati-Quennell, and Reiko Saito.
An extensive selection of public activities will accompany Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art: symposium, mini-talks, adult art tours, film series, learning lounge and the Artissimo kiosk for families. For more details, consult the events list or call 613.998.8888 or 1.888.541.8888.
Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art — the catalogue
The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue that features essays on recent developments in the field of contemporary Indigenous art by curators Greg Hill, Christine Lalonde and Candice Hopkins, as well as members of the advisory committee and invited authors. Published by the NGC, the 288-page catalogue is available for $39.95 at the NGC Bookstore and online at www.ShopNGC.ca as of May 17, 2013.
The NGC thanks its exhibition sponsors and supporting partners
The National Gallery of Canada would like to extend a special thank-you to the RBC Foundation for its generous support of the exhibition and to CN for its sponsorship. The NGC would also like to acknowledge First Air for its in-kind support of this exhibition and the Embassy of Mexico for its support and collaboration.
NGCmagazine.ca, the National Gallery of Canada’s online magazine is a frequently updated source of information on the Canadian art world and the goings-on at the National Gallery of Canada. Correspondents from across the country provide engaging and exclusive content on historical and contemporary art in Canada. This online magazine includes exclusive interviews with artists. This month, read stories and view artists interviews related to the exhibition.
Connect with Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art
The NGC regularly publishes information about the exhibition on its social media networks. To find out more, connect with:
Admission to Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art
Open every day from 10 am to 5 pm and until 8 pm on Thursdays. Free with general admission to the NGC Collection: $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, $6 for youths aged 12-19, and $24 for families (2 adults and 3 youths). Free admission at all times for NGC Members and children under 12. Free admission Thursdays from 5 pm to 8 pm, and on Sunday, May 19 (International Museum Day); Sunday, June 2 (National Indigenous Day); and Monday, July 1 (Canada Day). For more information, call 613.998.8888 or 1.888.541.8888.
Galleries and institutions are also partnering with the Gallery to present exciting installations and exhibitions alongside Sakahàn: Aboriginal Art Centre, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Art Gallery of Windsor, Asinabka Film and Media Festival, AXENÉO7, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Carleton University Art Gallery, Gallery 101, National Arts Centre, Ottawa Art Gallery, Ottawa School of Art, SAW Gallery, SAW Video Media Art Centre, and Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Art. For more information, visit their respective websites.
About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art. The Gallery also maintains Canada's premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st century, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. To do so, it maintains an extensive touring art exhibition programme. For more information: www.gallery.ca
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For media only:
An image of the installation and its credit lines are available in the Gallery’s Media Centre. For more information, please contact:
Senior Media and Public Relations Officer
National Gallery of Canada