Arvo Leo (b. 1981, Aotearoa) lives and works in Vancouver. He is interested in ethnographic surrealism, arbutus trees, and the everyday. Recent exhibitions include OCT Contemporary Art Terminal, Shanghai; the Berlin Film Festival; and the Biennale of Moving Images, MONA Tasmania (2015).
Fish Plane, Heart Clock, 2014
Film, 60 min
Courtesy of the artist.
Untitled (Waterskiing), 1989
Drawing, 50.79 x 66.03 cm
Fish Plane, Heart Clock is a film by Arvo Leo celebrating and responding to the work of the Inuit hunter-turned-artist Pudlo Pudlat (1916–1992). For many years Pudlo lived a traditional semi-nomadic life on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. Eventually, in his forties, after a hunting injury, he moved to the settlement of Cape Dorset where he began making drawings with materials provided by the newly established Kinngait Studios, the first Inuit printmaking initiative. Over the next thirty years Pudlo would produce over 4,000 drawings and paintings; many of which have never been exhibited.
What is exemplary about Pudlo is that he was one of the first artists to move away from making only images of traditional life. Upon the white page hunters, igloos, seals, and walruses are often found mingling in the company of such modern conveniences like airplanes, telephone poles, automobiles, and clocks; things that were swiftly becoming commonplace in the North. Pudlo, with his imaginative and playful touch, would sometimes even morph these subjects into each other, creating intriguing and surreal hybrids that embodied the radical cultural transformations occurring around him.
Twenty-two years after Pudlo’s death, Arvo Leo traveled to Cape Dorset to spend the spring living where Pudlo made his work. In Fish Plane, Heart Clock many images of Pudlo’s drawings and paintings are collaged with imagery that Leo created during his time there. Leo portrays the daily life of a small town in seasonal transition while also subtly evoking the surreal and enigmatic energy that was intrinsic to Pudlo’s art.
The film begins on the hour.
Fish Plane, Heart Clock (2014), Untitled (Waterskiing) (1989), Installation view Hasselblad Center, GIBCA 2015. Photo: Hendrik Zeitler