|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
OTTAWA, June 19, 2013 /CNW/ – 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]
Melting Iluliaq [Iceberg]
About the artist
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.