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STRUCTURING KNOWLEDGES: CACHING INUIT ARCHITECTURE THROUGH IGLOOLIK ISUMA PRODUCTIONS

Morton, Erin; Sirove, Taryn. Post Script; Commerce Vol. 29, Iss. 3,  (Summer 2010): 58-69,136,0_3.

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In the opening scene of Igloolik Isuma Productions' documentary Qallunajatut/ Urban Inuk (2005), we are introduced to the story of Jayson Kunnuk, a homeless Inuk living in downtown Montréal, Québec.1 In one of the video's sequences, Jayson holds up a miniature dog sled with a tiny figurine to the camera lens (Fig. 1). He tells the camera,

This little dude traveled all over the world. This little guy went to places I've never been. Like me, a new generation is living in the city down South. I think we are just like this sled. We will keep going forward. We have things to hold on to and a place to put them when we go on our journey. By adapting, we are going forward and we will keep on going.

Jayson's sentiment speaks about moving forward by adapting historical and cultural practices learned from his Northern upbringing in Igloolik, a small settlement in Canada's most northern territory, Nunavut, in order to make necessary adjustments to present-day challenges of "physical and spiritual" dislocation in the face of urbanization (Isuma Igloolik Productions).

Igloolik Isuma Productions is an artist's collective of video and filmmakers who draw many of their stories from historical and present-day experiences living in Igloolik. In our reading of the video Urban Inuk, the main character Jayson suggests that, much like his tiny figurine and sled, the documentary project which follows his journey takes with it specific cultural knowledges about the North to the urban territory of a Southern city. Instead of positing what Arjun Appadurai calls "simple models of push and pull" (32-33) between binaries such as North and South, Isuma's cultural production creates a new space for Indigenous knowledge and explores the ways in which such knowledge is informed and cross-implicated with varying levels of dislocation. Just as Northern...