Dr. Margaret (Marmie) Perkins Hess Gallery
October 6, 2022 – January 13, 2023
Every Possible Future Is Multispecies
Works from the ULethbridge Art Collection curated by Ooleepeeka Eegeesiak.
Every Possible Future Is Multispecies provides a glimpse into an interdependent world, defying constructed dualisms and hierarchies between humans, other species, and natural phenomena through works by Inuit artists.
There are a multitude of factors that are contributing to climate change, though primarily the result of capitalist systems and consumerism. In my experience, it is impossible to overlook how the mechanisms of colonialism continue to enact violence to and extract from Indigenous lands in order to expand global markets. This is true both in the arctic, where I was born and where the artists in this show are from, as well as the prairie, the place I grew up in and where these artworks are now located and contextualized within Treaty 7 territory. The compounding impacts and interconnections of colonialism, capitalism, and climate change actively displace Indigenous people from our lands and cultures, severing our relationships with more-than-human kin.
However, solutions to climate change have always been embedded in Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, or Inuit knowledge and philosophy, as seen in these artworks. Direct experience with weather patterns, ice, migrations, landscapes, and the lifeways of other beings has been accumulated through generations of reciprocity and intimacy with ecological systems. By perceiving the land, water, air, and all that inhabit these spaces as entangled and intertwined, human perspectives become decentered. This is a necessary shift towards nurturing biodiversity, avoiding further extinction, and healing our relationships with each other, other species, and the planet. The skills, ethics, practices, and concepts communicated through these artworks are deeply valuable and are what I desire to embody and learn about as a displaced Inuk and more broadly as a living being.
Providing a glimpse into an interdependent world that does not revolve around us, these works by Inuit artists defy constructed dualisms and hierarchies between humans, other species, and natural phenomena. They show that relationships can and should be extended beyond humans, and we are but one animal in a multiplicity of shapes that life can take. We are called to restore our role of stewarding environments, remember our embeddedness in ecosystems, return land and decision-making power to Indigenous peoples, and practice interspecies care. This way of being in the world, shaping our societies, and confronting colonial and extractive structures can lead us away from climate doom and towards planetary health, creating a future in alliance with all life on Earth.