QILAAT is an artistic tribe founded by east Greenlandic drumdancer and performance artist Varna. The main purpose of QILAATis to reignite the ritualistic, social and artistic heritage of Greenlandic drumdancing as a lived practice.
QILAAT means Drum. Our immaterial cultural heritage is facing critical conditions with every generation that is not working with it in a meaningful and free way. In great parts of Greenland the drum has been silent for almost 300 years. We have made local attempts towards helping the revival, but too many times it is limited to the focus on the pure song, without the discourse of ethics, spirituality and storytelling which are vital for preservation and maintenance of the essence and heart of the tradition.
The paradigmatic changes in our culture in the past 70 years, from the internet and global economy to interpersonal relations has changed the inuit living circumstances dramatically. Now there are very few in Greenland that maintain the connection to the cultural heritage alive by real lived practice, and even fewer still who research it in-depth or work with its artistic possibilities at the same time. We can be counted on the fingers of one hand. We Greenlanders are used to hearing of our own traditional songs and interpretations of it from foreign researchers, with no relation to the culture that is ours as such. It is time that we set our own terms in accessing and developing onwards our ways of being and living with the drum. It is time for us to take a look into our own experience and knowledge regarding the practice, and hand it over to the next generations to keep and move forward.
How we used to hymn along one another side by side, while someone was drumming is already gone. So few know the songs and the rituals behind it have become a distant echo. This distance has now damaged our treasured immaterial culture, with all the affiliated knowledge that came with it. But it doesn’t have to be like this.
The purpose of QILAAT is to dive into these subjects one by one, to create a space were we have the unity of drum knowledge collected and a space, both physical and digital, to share and care for its development and endless possibilities.
QILAAT will contribute to the preservation of the immaterial heritage of the Greenlandic drumdancing tradition, but also experiment and inspire its development into the future.