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Artist Statement

 ᐃ ᔨ

IJI, Inuktitut for EYE, is the literary arts collaboration between Johnny Issaluk and Kelly Bushnell.

Through public poetry projects, IJI seeks to promote education, understanding, and cooperation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous ecological epistemologies (ways of knowing/understanding nature).

IJI and EYE are one of the few words that are palindromes in both Inuktitut and English, reinforcing the visual nature of our poetic practice and the ways in which we strive for balance and reflection.  As an English homophone, eye/I represents the strength our individual identities bring to our collective work.  As an English homophone eye/aye and in Inuktitut iji/ii (and, literally/visually, the Inuit way of saying yes with the eyes instead of the voice) reinforces our commitment to looking one another in the eye and saying yes to this work of collaboration and understanding and to shouldering it together.

From an academic perspective, though we are conscientious of ecomaterialism’s emphasis on storied matter and the narrative porousness of the material world, we believe that existing critical theory is neither equipped nor appropriate for considering Indigenous literary methodologies and epistemologies.  IJI is an act of individual and collective decolonization, a declaration of independence, a reorientation and reinterpretation thereof for a general audience.

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