News: Birdgirl, Mya-Rose Craig joins Magnetic North at the British Museum

Activist, environmental campaigner and one of the UK’s wildlife heroes, Mya-Rose Craig – or Birdgirl – will speak in conversation at Magnetic North this December. The special online event from renowned theatre company Border Crossings’ ORIGINS Festival will celebrate the essential importance of the Arctic to us all and its integral cultural diversity, in conjunction with the Arctic: culture and climate exhibition at the British Museum.

Indigenous people who live alongside the melting ice have witnessed the climate crisis in ways that most of us could never imagine. Following her journey to the Arctic for the most Northerly Youth Strike this September, Mya-Rose will speak with Caitlyn Baikie about the climate change issues Arctic communities already face and the concerns for what’s to come. Baikie (Top 5 Indigenous leaders under 30 to watch, CBC 2015) is an Inuk from Nain, Nuntsiavut living in Quebec and is a policy advisor for the national advocacy organization Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

This broadcast event invites audiences to experience stories from extraordinary Arctic artists, poets and musicians through richly interwoven artforms. The whole event will be brought together by music from Indigenous Sámi band Vassvik who capture the resonance of the Arctic to place the other participants in a ritualised and trance-like soundscape. Led by Torgeir Vassvik, a keeper and renewer of the coastal music tradition, the band use yoik and overtone singing with drumming, traditional instruments, and natural sounds.

Alongside them will be Inupiaq/Tlingit storytelling from Ishmael Angaluuk Hope, a powerful discussion from Hivshu (whose name means The Voice of Arctic) about the current situation in the Arctic, performance poetry by Inuk author and spoken-word artist Taqralik Partridge, entrancing Greenlandic mask dancing from Elisabeth Heilmann Blind, and contemporary, political performance artist Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory.

Award-winning Kiliii Yuyan (30 Emerging Photographers, PDN 2019) will illuminate the hidden stories of the polar regions, wilderness and Indigenous communities with film and photography. Informed by ancestry that is both Nanai/Hèzhé (Siberian Native) and Chinese-American, he explores the human relationship to the natural world from different cultural perspectives.

Magnetic North is presented by the British Museum and Border Crossings, supported by Arts Council England and the High Commission of Canada. It is part of the public programme accompanying the Citi exhibition Arctic: culture and climate at the British Museum (22nd October 2020 – 21st February 2021).

Arctic: culture and climate is the first major exhibition on the history of the Arctic and its Indigenous Peoples, explored through the lens of climate change and weather. The Arctic has been home to resilient communities for nearly 30,000 years, cultures that have lived with the opportunities and challenges of one of the most dramatic environments on the planet. Today climate change is transforming the Arctic at the fastest rate in human history. The Citi exhibition Arctic: culture and climate is the first to look at the whole circumpolar region, revealing how Arctic Peoples have adapted to climate variability in the past and meet the challenges of global climate change today.

Magnetic North will be broadcast on Thursday 3 December, 6.30pm.

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