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BLOG: Archive for the ‘Inuit Culture/Art’ Category

Brunswik Art Museum Shows Inuit Art

December 21st, 2010 | By | Filed in INUIT, Inuit Culture/Art

According to this article, Inuit art is 'fairly hot right now', which I sincerely hope is an intentional pun on the part of the writer. Another way of putting it is that Inuit art is currently in demand from collectors and the public. This terrific year-long exhibit, at the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum on the Bowdoin College campus is called "Imagination Takes Shape", and consists of around 100 prints and carvings collected by Robert and Judith Toll. Well-known contemporary artists featured in the exhibition include Padlo Pudlat, Jessie Oonark and Simon Tookoome.
The Tolls, who live in California and otherwise have no ties to Bowdoin, last year pledged their collection of Inuit art, which they have been building during a decades-long love affair with the art and culture of the Canadian Arctic, to the Bowdoin museum. This show represents the first public display of part of the Tolls' gift. "They were looking for a home for their collection, and looking for a location where their gift could make a difference," said museum director Susan Kaplan, who has known the Tolls for 10 years and lobbied hard for the couple to leave their collection with Bowdoin.
The couple wanted a museum that would share the collection in public displays, and also where it could be used in scholarship. Bowdoin offered both, along with the allure and history of the museum itself. Peary-MacMillan is named for Arctic explorers and Bowdoin grads Robert Peary and Donald MacMillan, and is the only museum in the United States dedicated to Arctic studies.
The show is open through December, 2011 and admission is free. More from this well-crafted article by writer Bob Keyes on the background of some of the pieces -
The Tolls began collecting in the 1960s, and focused their efforts on specific communities on the western edge of Hudson Bay. "They've gone for depth, not for breadth," Kaplan said, explaining that the Tolls decided it was more important to capture the range of the Inuit experience. Many of the prints in this collection come from two primary printmaking cooperatives -- one in Cape Dorset; the other at Baker Lake. "The Tolls, in their collection, recognized that Inuit life was difficult and full of transition. You get pieces in this collection that reflect some of those themes," Kaplan said. Curator Genevieve LeMoine points to several examples. One of the first prints in the exhibition is a 1987 piece by Pudlat, "New Horizons." The title implies, and the art suggests, a new day for the Inuit as they move away from their traditional lifestyle represented by ox and into a contemporary setting represented by telephone wires. A print by Oonark speaks to the importance of community. She makes a human face in the middle of her image, then surrounds it with smaller faces that form a circle. The implication is that the individual is surrounded by ancestors, family members, friends and the larger community, and that one's journey through life is never taken alone.
Part of Oonark's brilliance is the double meaning of some of her work. In this instance, the print "The People" has larger implications. The faces, as they spiral outward from the center, also form the image of an igloo when viewed from above. Again, the print represents the sense of home, LeMoine said.

Inuit Women's Art Exhibition In Montreal

December 3rd, 2010 | By | Filed in Community News, IN THE NEWS, INUIT, Inuit Culture/Art

Nunatsiaq online reports on a new show at La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse in Montreal. Women of the Arctic is the first in a planned series of exhibitions and events to highlight works by Inuit artists from Nunavik and Nunavut. The show opened Nov 19 to an audience eager to view the work and enjoy a throat-singing performance by Evie Mark and Taqralik Partridge. The show consists of works on paper in a range of techniques including painting, drawing, and printmaking.
Some of the oldest prints exhibited at La Centrale gallery are those of the late Leah Nuvalinga Qumaluk, the well-known Puvirnituq printmaker, who passed away last August. Her work has been shown in New York, Paris and in a number of Canadian collections. Qumaluk created hundreds of prints since the early 1970s, including the eight exhibited. Her narrative stone prints employ only a few colours but often many characters, like the 1972 “Morse surprenant les chasseurs” (walrus surprising the hunters) which shows a walrus emerge between two kayakers, with a flock of geese overhead. In another, “Attente de retour des traineaux,” 1978 (waiting for the sleds to return) a group of four, hooded women’s faces seem to peer out of a blizzard.
The show is up until December 19 at Montreal’s La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse at 4296 St. Laurent Boulevard. If you're in the area, take a moment to stop by and us know how it looks.

Director Zacharias Kunuk's Latest Film

November 15th, 2010 | By | Filed in Community News, INUIT, Inuit Culture/Art

Zacharias Kunuk, Inuit producer and director of 'Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner', recently premiered a new feature film, a documentary titled 'Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change'. YouTube Preview Image The documentary contains five Inuktitut dialects, recorded as its two directors followed Inuit elders to document their perspectives on global warming. While we read a great deal about climate change from a scientific point of view, this film provides a first-person perspective from the people most directly affected by the changes occurring. From an review by Cendrine Marrouat -
"Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change" is a remarkable piece of work that invites us to reconnect with ourselves and the world around us, as well as take responsibilities for our actions. As a result, it makes us better citizens of the world, citizens that cannot accept the status quo anymore.
The Edmonton Journal has published a very moving editorial written by Mr. Kunuk, discussing his motivations for this film and for becoming a film maker -
Besides stressing the key relationship people have with their environment, Inuit values recognize the importance of working together for a common purpose, avoiding conflict and finding consensus and, especially, what we call Qanuqtuurungnarniq, the concept of being resourceful, demonstrating adaptability and flexibility in response to a rapidly changing world. Inuit approach climate change not only as a crisis, but as an opportunity to adapt, to find new techniques for living sustainably within the natural world. One after another, elders in our film tell us that hope lies in our capacity to be intelligent, resilient and well adapted to our environment. Having survived and thrived through past climate changes, and the daily challenge of depending on weather and animals, Inuit experience tells us that the only constant is change itself, and adaptation is the key to a successful human future. To Inuit, climate change is a human rights issue -- how people adapt to change and still respect the rights of others.
'Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change' can be screened online, as well as downloaded from Isuma TV.

How Do You Map The History of Your Country?

October 15th, 2010 | By | Filed in Current Events, IN THE NEWS, INUIT, Inuit Culture/Art, Uncategorized

We've talked a number of times on this blog about the preservation of the Inuit language and culture, from both a scientific an educational point of view. Discussing the culture of the Arctic in terms of preservation alone is misleading, Inuktitut is a living language, currently spoken and being passed down to the next generation. The Arctic Bay Atlas is one more way in which the community is working to continue the transmission of this knowledge.
The Cybercartographic Atlas of Arctic Bay is an online, community-based atlas project to engage youth and Elders of Arctic Bay, Nunavut in researching, documenting, and representing their multi-faceted spatial knowledge. It involves a partnership between Nunavut Youth Consulting, the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre (GCRC) at Carleton University, and Nunavut Arctic College. The Atlas includes an interactive spoken map of Inuktitut place names in the Arctic Bay Region. These place names are spoken by local Inuktitut speakers. The Atlas also features downloadable PDF maps, local artists profiles, and an interactive map of the 2008 Nunavut Quest, an annual inter-community dog sled that begins in Igloolik and ends in Arctic Bay.
I personally find the 'Spoken Map' page extremely valuable, as my knowledge of Inuktitut is theoretical rather than practical. Studying pronunciation guides is one place to start, yet nothing compares to hearing a language from a native speaker. Hover over each location on the map with your mouse to hear an audio clip of its name, click for further multimedia. There are several more pages on the site, including downloadable PDF maps showing locations of significance and the stories behind their importance to the Inuit people of Nunavut. Read more - Wikipedia Pronunciation Guide Lessons and more links – Representing Inuit and Indigenous Filmmaking

October 7th, 2010 | By | Filed in Community News, Current Events, IN THE NEWS, INUIT, Inuit Culture/Art, TECHNOLOGY, Uncategorized

Isuma TV is a video hosting and distribution network representing Inuit and Indigenous multimedia. The organization is globally participatory and free to access. With over 2,000 films in 41 languages, they are accomplishing their goal to represent a huge range of communities and cultures. Their content covers a huge range of topics, from Inuit cultural knowledge, politics and climate change, spirituality, local news of all kinds, as well as videos created by students, musicians, and independent film makers. From their Mission Statement -
IsumaTV is an independent interactive network of Inuit and Indigenous multimedia. IsumaTV uses the power and immediacy of the Web to bring people together to tell stories and support change. Our tools enable Indigenous people to express reality in their own voices: views of the past, anxieties about the present and hopes for a more decent and honorable future. Our sincere goal is to assist people to listen to one another, to recognize and respect diverse ways of experiencing our world, and honor those differences as a human strength. IsumaTV uses new networking technology to build a new era of communication and exchange among Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and communities around the globe.
One huge technological issue in video and information distribution is a lack of availability of high-bandwidth internet in some areas. Isuma tackles this issue head on, offering low bandwidth access to their videos, and are continually working to expand their range into areas where internet access is less unavailable. In addition, they are working to digitize and distribute archived historical audio-visual materials, supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Canadian Culture Online Strategy.

Scientists turn to Inuit weather prediction knowledge

September 9th, 2010 | By | Filed in Current Events, Inuit Culture/Art

An accurate weather prediction is of critical importance in an environment where a mistaken report can create safety issues. In this story from Futurity, scientists discuss their new model of working closely with the Inuit to describe and predict the weather.
Using skills passed down through generations, Inuit forecasters living in the Canadian Arctic look to the sky to tell by the way the wind scatters a cloud whether a storm is on the horizon or if it’s safe to go on a hunt. But in the past 20 years, something has run amok with Inuit forecasting. Old weather signals don’t seem to mean what they used to. The cloud that scatters could signal a storm that comes in an hour instead of a day.
“It’s interesting how the western approach is often trying to understand things without necessarily experiencing them,” says Elizabeth Weatherhead, a research scientist with the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. “With the Inuit, it’s much more of an experiential issue, and I think that fundamental difference brings a completely different emphasis both in defining what the important scientific questions are, and discerning how to address them.”
Shari Gearhead is a scientist with CU-Boulder's National Snow and Ice Data Center who has spent ten years living at Clyde River, Nunavut, Canada, an Inuit community on eastern Baffin Island while recording climate information observation directly from the elders and hunters.
“When we first started talking about this, indigenous knowledge didn’t have the place it does now in research,” Gearheard says. “It’s growing. People are becoming more familiar with it, more respectful of it.”
Research like this is critical, not only to help document indigenous knowledge which may someday be lost, but to further science in areas it may be lacking.
“What was incredibly helpful was Shari’s detailed description of what they were experiencing on what sort of timescales,” says Weatherhead. “That really allowed us to start focusing on our statistical tests and try to find exactly what matched their observations.

The personal side of throat singing

September 6th, 2010 | By | Filed in Inuit Culture/Art

Throat singing is widely recognized as an important facet of Inuit cultural arts, represented by artists such as Tanya Tagaq whom recently toured both Canada and the United States. The Guardian posted this terrific interview with two singers from divergent backgrounds, discussing their own relationships with the practice as well as how it relates to their experiences as modern native women. Taqralik Partridge shares,
When I was a kid, we used to see throat singing on TV. Although I lived in Nunavik, an Inuit region in northern Quebec, there was nobody in the community who still knew how to throat sing and it was not widely practiced. So, we children used to pretend to throat sing and make weird sounds because there was nobody to teach us how to do it. Then, when I was at university in Montreal, I was lucky enough to have a friend who knew how to do it and I just thought I would give it a try.
For Nina Segalowitz, learning to throat sing was directly associated with reclaiming her heritage, as she was adopted to a family of very different background at very young age.
As much as my adoptive family loved me, I couldn't see my reflection in the people around me. There was always something missing. Around 1995 or 1996, I started looking for my biological family. I met my biological family after I started throat singing. I felt it was a natural progression of discovering who I was.
Nina says that for her, throat singing is a way to bridge two worlds.
It's also a way for us to show the contemporary and traditional sides of our lives, that we can do traditional activities and have traditional knowledge and language and yet also be contemporary in our lifestyle, where we live, what we eat and how we see the world.

Big Think: Linguist To Document Dying Greenlandic Dialect

August 18th, 2010 | By | Filed in Current Events, Inuit Culture/Art

Over on the Big Think blog, Tobin Hack has posted a link to a Public Radio International piece on Stephen Pax Leonard, a Cambridge University professor who will be spending the next year learning and documenting Inuktun, the local dialect of Quaanaaag, Greenland. But this is about more than just language. The Inughuit language is in danger because their way of life is changing, as climate change endangers the animals they hunt and the environment in which they and those animals live. As Leonard explains,
“It’s a community that’s dependent on the hunting of sea mammals. Because of global warming there are fewer animals to kill and it’s increasingly dangerous to do so using these ancient traditional techniques that they use [dogsled and kayak] and so it looks like now this entire community could be moved further south within 10-15 years. And if that happens, the language, culture, the way of life will all go, will all disappear.” "If their language dies,” says Leonard, “their heritage and identity will die with it." Leonard has a head start on the communication front; he’ll be able to get by in his new adopted community by speaking Danish, until he gets the hang of Inukun. But he’ll be rushing toward fluency in his first few months, because all of the good stuff – all of the Inughuit’s most important songs, stories, myths, and spiritual beliefs – live in Inuktun.
via Endangered People: Linguist To Document Dying Greenlandic Dialect | Brave Green World | Big Think.

Throatsinger Tanya Tagaq Redefines Tradition

May 26th, 2010 | By | Filed in Inuit Culture/Art

I ran across some great videos today of Tanya Tagaq, a throatsinger out of Yellowknife whose reinterpretation of Inuit traditions has brought her international acclaim. This isn't the first time I've posted videos of throatsinging, but Tagaq does something simultaneously ancient and new, capturing something essential of both her culture and the landscape that has fostered it for generations. Tanya Tagaq @ YBCA Tanya Tagaq MySpace Music Videos She's sung with many prominent artists, including Bjork, Faith No More's Mike Patton, and the Kronos Quartet. Tagaq is on tour right now, with an appearance tonight in Quebec and upcoming concerts in Ontario, British Columbia, Ireland, the UK and Portugal. You can check out the tour schedule on her website for more information. More: Arctic Entertainment. NNSL Online Music Tanya Tagaq Official Website

The Fast Runner Trilogy at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

April 1st, 2010 | By | Filed in Current Events, IN THE NEWS, INUIT, Inuit Culture/Art

California is a long way off from the Arctic, but I thought I'd pass this along to any readers who might be in the neighborhood: The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (located in downtown San Francisco) will be showcasing independent Inuit films this April, with showings of Marie-Hélène Cousineau & Madeline Piujuq Ivalu's Before Tomorrow, Zacharias Kunuk's The Fast Runner, and Zacharias Kunuk & Norman Cohn's The Journals of Knud Rasmussen. Here's the blurb from the YBCA's website:
Igloolik is a community of 1,200 people located on a small island in the north Baffin region of the Canadian Arctic with archeological evidence of 4,000 years of continuous habitation. Throughout these millennia, with no written language, untold numbers of nomadic Inuit renewed their culture and traditional knowledge for every generation entirely through storytelling. These three brilliantly original films express the dramatic history of one of the world’s oldest oral cultures from its own point of view.
via Independent Inuit Film: The Fast Runner Trilogy | Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
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