Northern Scene Festival 2013

Posted 13/04/30 in NEWS

Janis Monture, Executive Director was fortunate to attend the Northern Scene Festival held in Ottawa/Gatineau from April 25 - May 4, 2013 and was part of the presenters programme.

It was an incredible sense of community and pride at the opening ceremony of the Northern Scene festival which was directed and choregraphed by Alejandro Ronceria.  It began with a welcome song by the Pimadiziwin Singers from Ottawa then followed by a welcome blessing by Algonquin Elder Albert Dumont.  Definite highlights from the opening was the strong soulful songs by four amazing women Diyet, Sylvia Cloutier, Nive Nielsen and Leela Gidlay – who make up the Circumpolar Soundscape musical production.  An amazing cross-section of musical genres with the very grounded throat singing by Evie Mark and Alacie Sivuarapik with the very young talented groundbreaking throat boxer/beat boxer Nelson Tagoona.  They took turns both highlighting their own genres before they came together for a mixed throat singing/throat boxing performance that had people cheering from their seats.  Leela Gilday showcased the Yukon tradition with a performance with the Dehcho Dene Drummers but it was Boyd Benjamin and Jona Barr that really got people tapping their toes to the fast fiddle and folk music of the north.  Finally to end the ceremony was a very traditional performance by the Dakhka Khwaan Dancers.

The next day there were approximately 6 school buses that were rotating on 2 loops around the City of Ottawa taking fellow gallery crawl swarmers around to each of the 9 participating galleries.  I decided to take the western bus loop where I got to view  4 galleries.  The first stop I made was to Carleton University Art Gallery where I saw the two exhibitions: Dorset Seen and Dawson Gold.  I particularly enjoyed the Dorset Seen exhibit in which approximately 20 artists were displayed from the region of Cape Dorset.  This exhibit paid homage to the artists of both past and present and looking at everything from printmaking to sculpture.  My next stop on the gallery crawl was over at Cube Gallery where a solo exhibition on Rosalie Favell’s works were on display. After waiting approximately forty minutes for the next bus to arrive I finally got to go see Gallery 101’s show Aurora Boreawesomer which was really quite an interesting show.  Finally my last stop was off to the National Arts Centre visual art exhibits: Whalebone, beads, fur, feathers, fibre and soapstone which were works from the Canada Council Art Bank.  Inuit Ullumi: Inuit Today was a great show highlighting the strong printmaking and contemporary arts.

Boundless: Fashion From Canada’s North was definitely one of the highlights for festival goers who came out in the thousands to see this display of the north’s finest fashion designers.  The fashion show was curated by Northwest Territory jewelry designer Jamie Look and showcased a number of emerging fashion designers up against the likes of NWT’s D’Arcy Moses, Nunavut’s Rannva, and the Yukon’s Shosho Esquiro whose hip hop inspired clothing is worn by celebrities.

On Saturday April 27th, Adventures in Canada’s North was a performance which was mostly composed by the National Arts Centre Orchestra’s conductor Alain Trudel who took the audience on a musical journey across the north with special guest Susan Aglukark who sang her hits ‘O Siem’ and ‘Hina Na Ho’.  There was original music composed by Alexina Louie which was composed for Inuit Throat Singers and a chamber ensemble called ‘Take the Dog Sled’.  One of my personal favourites was the song ‘Avaala’ which was composed by Simeonie Keenainak who played the accordion along with the National Art Centre’s Orchestra.

I went to visit the downtown galleries to view their exhibitions that were part of the Northern Scene Festival.  My first stop was the Ottawa Art Gallery’s shows: Cyclops which was an Inuit Sculpture exhibit where it featured six different Inuit artists who decided to break the mould of what was typically designated Inuit Art. The other art exhibit that I viewed was Larger Than Life which looked at contemporary art created by four Yukon artists.  Definitely some of my favourite works were from this exhibit, in particular Joseph Tisiga’s works and a great ‘cat mushing’ video by artist Veronica Verkley.  Last but not least I made a trip to the SAW Gallery in which I took in the show Northern Exposures which was curated by Candice Hopkins and Jonathan Demers.

Ivan Coyote and Taqralik Partridge: This storytelling and spoken word event was presented in conjunction with the Ottawa International Writers Festival and was a sold out event.  I did not know what to expect, but I am definitely glad I attended this worthwhile event.  I was blown away by the calm and soothing voice that spoke in a rhythmic pattern of Taqralik Partridge whose critically acclaimed short story Igloolik had everyone on the edge of their seats.  It was definitely one of the most heartfelt stories of a relationship I had heard in a very long time, one that made you feel pain for the protagonist of the story.

So if you get a chance please take in this wonderful festival it is on until May 4, 2013.