Jessica Houston

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Place with No Dawn (Qausuittuq)

Jessica Houston & Bruno Tremblay
2010
24-hour time-lapse photography to HD video,
Resolute Bay, Canadian High Arctic
12 minutes

Resolute Bay, or Qausuittuq, literally means, “place with no dawn” in Inuktitut.This is a 24-hour time-lapse video made from still shots taken with two cameras simultaneously of a view onto a landscape in the Canadian High Arctic. It is a record of the passage of time, and the ephemeral qualities of the ever-changing weather and light that is particularly evident in the Arctic. The photographs were taken exactly at the moment when the sun stops setting below the horizon, flooding the land with 24 hours of daylight. 

The double images both extend the horizon and also refer to the tumultuous political history of Resolute Bay, where people were deported from Northern Quebec and Baffin Communities to assert Canadian sovereignty in the region. To this day, there is a divide among the locals who speak different dialects. We asked people in the village of Qausuittuq to describe their experience of moving from dark to 24-hour daylight. Conversations with people from the mayor to teachers, hunters, students, and the town carver proved to be rich, layered, and complex. Zipporah, an elder, spoke of her nomadic upbringing and her joy at having grown up with an immediate experience with the land. A teenage boy proudly translated the word INUK as meaning “I am alive.” We sat in the kitchen of two young sisters while they faced each other cheek to cheek and sang throat songs. These observations provide the sound for the video, along with the voices of two young sisters throat singing. I worked in collaboration with Dr. Bruno Tremblay, scientist at McGill University, who was an integral part of this project.