Episode 46. Interview with Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory

Broken Boxes Podcast is proud to present this episode as the third installation in a series of interviews featuring participants and their respondents from the socially engaged project #callresponse.  

In this episode we get into conversation with performance artist Laakkuluk Williamson-Bathory. She speaks on work as a uaajeerneq performer of Greenlandic mask dancing and her use of poetry as art form. She speaks on her upcoming performance project with #callresponse and we also hear about her experience as a founder and Executive Director of Qaggiavuut, Iqaluit’s first performing arts center. Laakkuluk gives insight on the balance of being a mother and an artist, remembering our connection to land, and ways to create creative space within our communities. 

Laakkuluk Williamson-Bathory and Tanya Tagaq performance, 2015. photo credit: Front of House Photography.

Laakkuluk Williamson-Bathory and Tanya Tagaq performance, 2015. photo credit: Front of House Photography.

I am an advocate for the deep human need for all people, but especially post­-colonial Indigenous people to express themselves at a level of creative excellence. I am a mother, wife, writer and performer based in Iqaluit, Nunavut" - Laakkuluk Williamson-Bathory

Here is the conversation with Laakkuluk Williamson-Bathory:

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All music featured on this episode by artist Tanya Tagaq from the album Animism

More about the Artist:

Laakkuluk Williamson-Bathory is a uaajeerneq performer of Greenlandic mask dancing, music, drum­-dancing, storytelling and acting. Her career has allowed her to travel all across Canada and to many wondrous parts of the world. Laakkuluk’s poetry was recently commissioned for the exhibit Fifth World (2105), Wanda Nanibus Curator, Mendel Gallery, Saskatoon. Her collaboration From the Belly to the Moon(2012), a six part postcard exchange project connecting performance art in Iqaluit to New York was a Fuse Magazine artist project. In addition to her poetry, theatre and uaajeerneq, Laakkuluk is founder and Executive Director of Qaggiavuut, Iqaluit’s first performing arts center. She also curated projects that challenged outdated museum exhibition practices for Inuit culture at the Art Gallery of Ontario including: Inuit Art in Motion(2003) and litarivingaa? Do You Recognize me?(2004), which additionally brought youth together across urban and rural environments through Tauqsiijiit an onsite residence youth media lab located at the heart of the exhibition with participants from: Igloolik Isuma Productions, Qaggiq Theatre, Siqiniq Productions, Daybi, Tungasuvvingat Inuit Youth Drop In Centre (Ottawa), 7th Generation Image Makers (Native Child and Family Services of Toronto), Debajehmujig Theatre Group (Wikwemikong) and Qaggiq Theatre (Iqaluit). “I am an advocate for the deep human need for all people, but especially post­-colonial Indigenous people to express themselves at a level of creative excellence. I am a mother, wife, writer and performer based in Iqaluit, Nunavut. My three children speak Greenlandic, Inuktitut and English – all languages part of their heritages. I am passionate about spending time on the land – hiking, snowmobiling, boating, hunting, camping, eating wild foods, building cabins and cultivating raccoon tans are all activities that figure largely in my family.” 

Qaggiavuut Performing Arts Society Website

Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory and family in Greenland 2015

Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory and family in Greenland 2015

Artist Project Details:

Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory: ujimajaaqtuqanngiguuq "they call it traditional knowledge" is a 30 minute performance piece to take place at the Nunavut Legislature, based on Greenlandic mask dancing and incorporating storytelling and electronic music. Uaajeerneq is a clownish dance that is highly sexualized, frightening and hilarious. It is a type of entertainment that teaches children about panic, adults about boundaries, or the lack thereof and examines the limits of human experience in the unknowable immensity of the universe. Every Uaajeerneq dancer sees the performance as a self­realization in the face of decolonization. “As I develop my practice, I'm looking for ways of people, both Inuit and non­Inuit to see art as an individual exploration of identity, culture, politics, ugliness and beauty and not as a pageantry of "Inuit art." This project is taking a meaningful part of my practice right to the centre of Nunavut politics ­ the legislature, addressing this idea full on.” Laakkuluk works with a group of seven politically minded Inuit on community actions and political discussions, who will collectively act as the respondent for this project, creating an audio recording of the group’s dialogue for the project’s exhibition at grunt gallery. This group comes together to challenge themselves and support each other to make political change at a community and a territorial level, acting as a safe zone for political discussion and often collaborating with each other for other projects. Professionally, the group is comprised of artists, bureaucrats and in various positions of emerging leadership.

#callresponse Project Details:

 

Strategically centering Indigenous women as vital presences across multiple platforms, #callresponse is a multifaceted project which includes a website, social media platform, touring exhibition and catalogue. The project brings together five local art commissions by Indigenous women artists from across Canada, including Christi Belcourt, Maria Hupfield, Ursula Johnson, Tania Willard and Laakkuluk Williamson-Bathory. Each artist has invited a guest to respond to their work, including Isaac Murdoch, IV Castellanos and Esther Neff, Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Marcia Crosby and Tanya Tagaq.

#callresponse is co-organized by Tarah Hogue, Maria Hupfield and Tania Willard, and produced in partnership with grunt gallery and generously supported by the {Re}conciliation initiative of the Canada Council for the Arts, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation and The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada. Additional presentation partners include BUSH Gallery, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, FADO Performance Art Centre, Kamloops Art Gallery, OFFTA live art festival, the National Arts Centre, and the Native Education College.