Clara Ursitti: Amik

Glasgow-based artist Clara Ursitti presents 'Amik' an exhibition of new work following research residencies with communities in North Eastern Ontario, Canada.

Clara Ursitti: Amik

About Clara Ursitti: Amik

24th Jun 2022 to 29th Jan 2023
As per opening hours
Gallery of Modern Art
Gallery of Modern Art Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow City Centre G1 3AH
This is a free event
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Listed Under Exhibitions Events

‘Amik’ is an immersive artwork by Canadian artist Clara Ursitti, featuring film, scent and sculptures, that explores the links between Scotland – specifically Glasgow’s former Royal Exchange building, now home to GoMA – and Canadian fur-trading legacies, particularly the Hudson’s Bay Company.

The title for the exhibition, which translates as ‘beaver’ in Algonquin, a common language used by indigenous people in Canada, refers to the inspiration behind Ursitti’s work. With the beaver an iconic Canadian symbol relating to the British and French colonial era, the artist regards the beaver pelt (skin) trade as crucial in defining the relationship of colonial settlers with the land and the natives they stole it from.

A key starting point for the exhibition, which will open with a performance commissioned by Ursitti, was castoreum: a substance collected from beaver glands as a by-product of beaver trapping, used to scent tobacco and perfumes and as a natural food flavouring to replace vanilla, yet unlisted on ingredient labels.

Intrigued by the attraction and repulsion castoreum generates, and the ways in which the substance is used by trappers in lures, Ursitti shifts the focus away from beavers’ popularity as cute animals with a view to haunting her audience with a more embodied version. To achieve her aim, Ursitti uses sculptures, including found objects; film recordings and sound work from residencies in Canada; scent; and a whole tree ethically sourced and prepared by Glasgow-based environmental community GalGael.

As part of her research, Ursitti collaborated with Katie Bruce, GoMA Producer/Curator, to study beaver histories in Scotland and the use of imported beaver pelts and other items contained within Glasgow Life Museums’ collection with connections to the history of the city’s Royal Exchange building. The Mitchell Library’s archives also helped the artist to explore the Canadian fur trade’s ties to these shores.

Through a research residency with White Water Gallery in North Bay, Canada in 2019, Ursitti visited and learned from indigenous communities in the area where she grew up, before producing the exhibition’s film and sound recordings during trips to Nipissing Nation Reserve and Teme Augama-Anishnabai Nation Reserve in February 2020.

Ursitti, who also lectures at Glasgow School of Art, often works with scent and social space, creating ephemeral installations and interventions and has exhibited in galleries around the world, including: the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow; the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Gothenburg Biennale, Gothenburg, Sweden; Museum Tinguely, Basel, Switzerland; Kunstverein, Wolfsburg, Germany; YYZ, Toronto, Canada; and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, Australia.

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