2019 Venice Biennale News

Isuma Will Represent Canada at the 2019 Venice Biennale

Members of Isuma photographed in 1990.


The 2017 Venice Biennale may have closed less than a month ago, but already, some nations are preparing for the biennial’s 2019 edition. Canada is in front of the pack this year, and has announced the collective Isuma will represent the country at the 2019 Venice Biennale. (For those who want to relive the full 2017 Biennale experience, our coverage is here.)

Isuma is led by Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn, and has, in the past, also included Paul Apak Angilirq and Pauloosie Qulitalik, both of whom are dead. Founded in 1990, the collective has, for the past two and a half decades, been making films and videos about the Inuit experience. Their work was shown in the film section of Documenta 14 this past summer; it has also appeared at the Cannes Film Festival (where Isuma produced the first video ever to win one of the festival’s major prizes, in 2001), the Toronto International Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, and Documenta 11.

In a statement, Marc Mayer, the director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada, said, “Isuma’s participation in Venice also marks the first presentation of art by Inuit in the Canada Pavilion. I am convinced that the international art world will be inspired by the insights that Kunuk and Cohn’s collaborative work will elicit at the next Venice Biennale.”

Mayer chose the collective as part of a jury that included Naomi Potter, the director and curator of the Esker Foundation; Matthew Hyland, the director of the Oakville Galleries; Candice Hopkins, an independent curator; and Josée Drouin-Brisebois, a senior curator of contemporary art at the National Gallery of Canada. The project curator for the pavilion has not yet been announced.

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