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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

McMichael marks first year of Inuit art digitization project with interactive exhibition, Journey into Fantasy

(News Release)

June 15, 2015, Kleinburg, ON - On June 20, 2015, Journey into Fantasy, in Inuktitut, Ingirrajut Isumaginnguaqtaminnut will open at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection featuring the work of Inuk artist, Pudlo Pudlat (1916-1992).

The exhibition celebrates the one-year mark for the collaboration with York University in the multi-partner project, Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage (MICH). Visitors can also engage with Pudlat's fantastic drawings by playing a fully interactive iPad game within the exhibition space.

In June 2013, the McMichael announced its partnership with MICH, through a $3.5 million grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). As a MICH partner, the McMichael is working to digitize drawings from the Cape Dorset Archive (1959-89), on long-term loan from the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative in Cape Dorset, Baffin Island.

By creating digital records of the drawings in the Archive, the McMichael and MICH aim to expand access of the collection to teachers, students, community members and researchers, no matter where they live. Their common vision is to initiate a dialogue based on the Archive as a foundation of Inuit traditional knowledge.

MICH partner Pinnguaq, the Nunavut-based gaming design company, discovered the works of Pudlat in the digital Archive. Pudlat often blurred the boundaries between nature and technology and after looking through his animated drawings, Pinnguag (or play in Inuktitut) found his artistic antics to be a perfect match for their interactive digital series Art Alive.

From over 4,600 works by Pudlat in the collection, Pinnguaq selected ten artworks to develop into an intuitive, storytelling game. Given Pinnguaq's mandate to foster learning through play, bridging contemporary technology and Indigenous cultures, Pudlat's perceptions and interest in new media of his time offer a poignant worldview for a 21st century platform.

Pinnguaq is documenting the making of the game Art Alive through online blog posts at pinnguaq.com, featuring game concepts and development, stories about the artists, and how the characters and elements in the artworks are digitally brought to life.

"I am thrilled that we are adding this interactive gaming experience to the McMichael's summer programs that focus on Indigenous knowledge and artistic traditions," said Dr. Victoria Dickenson, Executive Director and CEO of the McMichael. "As an organization dedicated to the preservation and showcasing of Inuit art, it is also a privilege to share with our visitors the important work the MICH team has been doing to bring this inspiring project to life." 

The interactive media installation, alongside original works by Pudlat, will also highlight MICH activities in a series of videos, including the unveiling of a sculpture produced for the Inuit Circumpolar Council, performances by spoken-word artist Nelson Tagoona, Cape Dorset artist interviews with curator Christine Lalonde, as well as imagery and soundscapes by Geronimo Inutiq (aka madeskimo).

Journey into Fantasy runs until September 27 and is curated by Elyse Portal in conjunction with her work as a York University Research Assistant at McMichael for the MICH project.

About the McMichael Canadian Art Collection
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is an agency of the Government of Ontario and acknowledges the support of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and the McMichael Canadian Art Foundation.

It is the foremost venue in the country showcasing the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. In addition to touring exhibitions, its permanent collection consists of almost 6,000 artworks by Canadian artists, including paintings by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, as well as First Nations, M├ętis and Inuit artists.

The gallery is located on 100 acres of northern landscape and hiking trails at 10365 Islington Avenue, Kleinburg, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in the City of Vaughan. For more information: mcmichael.com.

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