INUA at Winnipeg Art Gallery
10 January 2024

Keynote: Heather Igloliorte


On Wednesday 10 January 2024, Dr. Heather Igloliorte (Inuk-Newfoundlander, Nunatsiavut) will give a public lecture at Wereldmuseum Leiden titled "What Do Collections Want? Indigenous Artistic and Curatorial Interventions in Ethnographic Museums." Igloliorte is a curator and art historian whose work centres circumpolar Inuit and other Indigenous arts and knowledges within global art contexts such as contemporary art exhibitions, public art installations, museum collecting practices, and new media art and film productions.

Header image: Installation view of INUA: Inuit Nunangat Ungammuaktut Atautikkut (Inuit Moving Forward Together) at Winnipeg Art Gallery, 2021-2023. Curated by asinnajaq, Kablusiak, Krista Ulujuk Zawadski, and Heather Igloliorte. Photo by Lindsay Reid.

What Do Collections Want? Indigenous Artistic and Curatorial Interventions in Ethnographic Museums

This keynote explores how Indigenous curators and artists are currently engaging with ethnographic collections held in trust by museums worldwide. While there are numerous and growing efforts to return ancestral collections to their communities, repatriation processes are slow moving and imperfect at best, and furthermore not always desired or even possible; in the meantime, how should we care for, think through, and work with these collections in the present? How are Indigenous creative and museological practices challenging colonial collecting, keeping, and display paradigms within museums today?

Drawing on case studies from throughout North America and internationally—including some examples from my own curatorial practice—this presentation examines the diverse Indigenous methodologies, artistic strategies and curatorial experiments which are leading new conversations on the ethical stewardship of Indigenous collections in museums globally.

About the speaker

Dr. Heather Igloliorte's research foregrounds Indigenous perspectives and creativity, with a particular emphasis on the training and mentoring of Indigenous youth from remote and northern communities, while focusing on decolonizing institutions and challenging colonialist understandings of resilience, health, resources, and technologies.

Until 2023, she held the Tier 1 University Research Chair in Circumpolar Indigenous Arts and was an associate professor in the Department of Art History at Concordia University. Igloliorte has been an independent curator since 2005. She has created or co-created more than 30 curatorial projects throughout her career. Her first major exhibition, the oral history project “We Were So Far Away”: The Inuit Experience of Residential Schools (2008-, Ottawa, Legacy of Hope Foundation), is still in circulation across Canada today. Other notable exhibitions include ARCTIC XR/ ARCTIC AR (2022), which was presented in conjunction with Árran 360° at the Sami Pavilion of the Venice Biennale and toured across Canada and internationally; the Memory Keepers series (2019-2020); Among All These Tundras (2018-2021); Decolonize Me (2011-2015); and SakKijâjuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut, the first nationally-touring exhibition of her region, which toured across Canada (2016-2020).

In recognition of her significant contributions to curatorial practice in Canada, in 2021 Igloliorte was both awarded The Hnatyshyn Foundation's Award for Curatorial Excellence in Contemporary Art, and became the first Indigenous person to receive a Royal Canadian Academy of Arts Medal.

Heather Igloliorte