Tanya Tagaq in Concert with Nanook of the North

“She taps into humanity’s most naked emotions and forces them into the spotlight... the best musical performance any of us had ever seen.”
— Vice Music

Celebrated Inuit performer Tanya Tagaq reclaims the controversial 1922 film Nanook of the North. Tagaq, along with percussionist Jean Martin and violinist Jesse Zubot, performs a live accompaniment to the film’s silent images of life in an early 20th-century Inuit community in Northern Quebec. Drawing on her childhood on Nunavut’s Victoria Island, and on her mother’s memories of forced relocation from the film’s location, Tagaq transforms the images through exquisite, unnerving vocal improvisations rooted in traditional and contemporary culture, adding tremendous feeling and depth to a complex mix of beautiful representations and racially charged clichés. Nanook of the North was commissioned by the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), where it premiered to critical acclaim in 2012 as part of TIFF First Nations.

Tagaq has been touring and collaborating with an international circle of artists for over a decade. Her improvisational approach lends itself to collaboration across genres, and recent projects have pulled her in vastly different directions – from a collaboration with the Toronto-based hardcore band F**ked Up to premiering a new composition commissioned by Kronos Quartet foir their Fifty for the Future collection. Tagaq was also recently asked to contribute a track to an Adult Swim compilation album entitled NOISE, alongside luminaries like Merzbow, Wolf Eyes and Pharmakon.

Tanya Tagaq’s music and performances challenge static ideas of genre and culture, and contend with themes of environmentalism, human rights and post-colonial issues. In repeated interviews, Tagaq has stressed the importance of considering her work in the context of contemporary – not traditional – art. This statement is not just about sound, although her music is decidedly modern and technically intricate, but about widespread, deep-rooted assumptions about contemporary indigenous culture.