Lockdown review: Magnetic North

A fusion of music, storytelling, mime, movement, myth and the wonders of nature – Magnetic North is an enthralling celebration of the culture and climate of the Arctic through an exploration of its artistry.

The landscape is peaceful, but functional. Ancestry and naming is important, as is the tradition of the indigenous space. A world where nothing can be seen for miles but snow, water, and perhaps a polar bear.

The performers welcome us into their world, and celebrate it. Their words and movements are personal, but also public: these are people who may not share our world with its fast-paced reliance of technology or consumerism, but they share the same basic humanity and love of life.

Taqralik Partridge. Image credit Dean Tomlinson, Art Gallery of Ontario
Taqralik Partridge. Image credit Dean Tomlinson, Art Gallery of Ontario

A strong message about climate change and the melting of the ice cap highlights the resilence of the Arctic people. Their world is valid, but disappearing, and we all have apart to play in ensuring this magical landscape and its people survive.

Border Crossings, who present this film, devote themselves to “working across the borders between cultures and art forms, and between nations and peoples”. Magnetic North is an intriguing and timely addition to the conversation about climate change and public responsibility.

Those “voices from the Indigenous Arctic” are varied, as wild, as welcoming as the landscape that surrounds them. Hivshu, Ishmael Angaluuk Hope, Vassvik, Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, and Taqralik Partridge bring their observations, music, poetry and stories to our screens. Elisabeth Heilmann Blind performs Greenlandic mask dancing (to ward off fearful situations).

Magnetic North was livestreamed by the British Museum on the 3 December for free. It is part of the events programme supporting the Citi exhibition Arctic: culture and climate.