Kanang­i­nak Pootoo­gook’s dis­tinc­tive fig­u­ra­tive style, pro­vides a sly com­men­tary on the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Inuit by out­siders. Rarely do the pho­to­graphs of Inuit com­mu­ni­ties,

Inuit Art Quarterly - - LAST LOOK -

a near-end­less ar­chive taken over the past hun­dred years by ex­plor­ers, ethno­g­ra­phers, an­thro­pol­o­gists, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and oth­ers, re­veal the iden­ti­ties of their mak­ers.

In The First Tourist (1992) the gaze is re­versed. Pootoo­gook po­si­tions the viewer as ob­server to the en­tirety of the scene, un­mask­ing, de­mys­ti­fy­ing and de-ex­oti­ciz­ing the en­counter be­tween pho­tog­ra­pher and pho­tographed. De­lib­er­ately play­ful, the ex­ag­ger­ated pose and ex­pres­sion of the pho­tog­ra­pher is con­trasted with the stilted pos­ture of the Inuk sub­ject. Pootoo­gook clev­erly de­ploys the sig­ni­fiers of Arc­tic life (seal­skin, inuk­suk, skin cloth­ing) to prob­lema­tize deeply rooted stereo­types. In the process, a new and more com­plex pic­ture is cap­tured.

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