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Pia Arke / Tupilakosaurus

2010-06-06 to 2010-09-05

With the premature death of Greenlandic-Danish artist Pia Arke (1958-2007), the Nordic region lost one of its few, perhaps primary, postcolonial practitioners. For more than two decades, Arke developed an innovative form of artistic research, with which she examined the Danish-Greenlandic colonial history that she as the daughter of a Greenlandic mother and a Danish father herself was a product of. The Nordic region did not seem ready to confront this history in Arke's lifetime, for which reason her work did not receive the broad recognition and dissemination it deserves. The exhibition TUPILAKOSAURUS / Pia Arke's Issue with Art, Ethnicity, and Colonialism, 1981-2006, presented at Bildmuseet this summer, seeks to remedy this.

Arke engaged the Danish-Greenlandic colonial history in a number of ways. In some works she examined Western conceptions of Greenland, thereby scrutinizing those who scrutinize Greenland. In other works she returned to the places in Greenland, where she as a child had lived, and recovered some of the many stories and destinies that have been left out of official history books. And in others still she settled accounts with European preconceptions of so-called primitive art and Eskimoic originality. While public archives and private keepsakes formed the primary sources of Arke's research, photography and text made up her main media due to the central role played by both in colonial processes. Mocking the movements of the explorer, the anthropologist, and the cartographer she followed unacknowledged traces and forgotten poles of belonging. In retrospect, Arke's artistic production unfolds as a persistent examination of the driving forces behind Denmark's colonization of Greenland and its contemporary repression and repercussions in both countries.

TUPILAKOSAURUS / Pia Arke's Issue with Art, Ethnicity, and Colonialism, 1981-2006 is curated by the Danish independent curators collective Kuratorisk Aktion (Frederikke Hansen & Tone Olaf Nielsen) in collaboration with the in 2007 founded Pia Arke Society. This first comprehensive survey of Arke's work features more than 70 photographs, paintings, videos, installations, and social projects alongside material from Arke's extensive archive. The exhibition has earlier this year been presented at Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art and the National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, and also at Katuaq and the Greenland National Museum & Archives in Nuuk, Greenland. Kuratorisk Aktion recently received the Danish Arts Council's award for the exhibition project.

As an essential part of the the exhibition, both Arke's Danish-language books, Ethno-Aesthetics (1995) and Stories from Scoresbysund (2003), have been republished in new trilingual editions (English, Greenlandic, and Danish), whereby they have become accessible once more for a Danish readership and for the first time for a Greenlandic and international public. In conjunction with the opening of the exhibition at Bildmuseet, a Swedish version of Stories from Scoresbysund will be released: Pia Arke and Stefan Jonsson, Scoresbysundshistorier, en personlig närkamp – i text och bild – med Nordens koloniala historia, Glänta Produktion.

A 100-pages long exhibition guide containing curatorial introductions to the exhibition`s different sections and essays on selected works written by seventeen artists and theorists is offered to the audiences free of charge. TUPILAKOSAURUS culminates with the publication of a major catalogue in January 2011, containing historical and commissioned essays as well as an illustrated cataloque raisonné on Arke`oeuvre.

The exhibition is realized with financial support from The Augustinus Foundation, Bildmuseet, Jarl Borgen, Borgen Publishers, City of Copenhagen's Council for Visual Arts, The Danish Arts Council Committee for Literature, The Danish Arts Council Committee for Visual Arts, The Danish Council for Independent Research / Humanities, Dansk Veteranbil Udlejning, Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art, Det Kongelige Grønlandsfond, Government of Greenland's Cultural Grant, Greenland National Museum & Archives, Knud Højgaards Fond, Katuaq, Kulturfonden Danmark-Grønland, The National Museum of Denmark, Nordic Culture Point, The New Carlsberg Foundation, The Novo Nordisk Foundation, OAK Foundation Denmark, Sonning-Fonden, and Svensk-danska kulturfonden.