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Inuit Art Quarterly - - CONTENTS - Britt Gallpen

Davidee Nin­geok

Nu­natsi­avut-based Davidee Nin­geok is not afraid to con­front dif­fi­cult his­to­ries: case in point is his 2015 work Res­i­den­tial School Night­mare, now tour­ing na­tion­ally as part of the sur­vey ex­hi­bi­tion SakKi­jâjuk: Art and Craft from Nu­natsi­avut. The work un­flinch­ingly por­trays a mo­ment of cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment, the stu­dent’s out­stretched hands await­ing the sting of the in­struc­tor’s pad­dle, ren­dered like the open book be­tween them in opaque milky bone. Nin­geok has ex­ag­ger­ated his fig­ures, etch­ing the de­tails of their faces and cloth­ing into their solid forms. The piece is a direct re­sponse to the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment’s 2008 apol­ogy to res­i­den­tial school vic­tims, which as the artist ex­plains ex­cluded Inuit and Innu from New­found­land and Labrador, whom the gov­ern­ment claimed at­tended in­sti­tu­tions that weren’t cre­ated un­der The In­dian Act and there­fore weren’t true res­i­den­tial schools. “I felt that re­ally wasn’t right,” says Nin­geok. “I wanted to put some­thing out there so Labrador Inuit could be rec­og­nized, so they could be apol­o­gized to also.”

The artist be­gan carv­ing in his teens af­ter watch­ing oth­ers, first in Hope­dale and later in Postville, which the artist now calls home.

Over the en­su­ing years, he honed his tech­nique—most iden­ti­fi­able through his con­trast­ing of chalky etch­ing and lus­ciously pol­ished stone—and nar­rowed in on his pre­ferred sub­ject mat­ter. An as­tute ob­server of his­tory, Nin­geok fo­cuses on pro­duc­ing work that cap­tures “the im­por­tance of the past”, whether through com­mu­nity-based nar­ra­tives, such as in When a Wolf Be­came a Husky (2015), or a planned piece on the ef­fects of col­o­niza­tion, in­clud­ing the Span­ish

Flu, on coastal Labrador. “I want to make work that gets peo­ple think­ing,” the artist states. “Be­cause if a pic­ture is worth a thou­sand words, a carv­ing is prob­a­bly worth ten thou­sand.”

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1 Davidee Nin­geok (b. 1982 Postville) Res­i­den­tial

School Night­mare 2015 Ser­pen­ti­nite and bone 26 x 35.6 x 25.4 cm Photo The Rooms Pro­vin­cial Art Gallery

2 Davidee Nin­geok When a Wolf Be­came a Husky

2015 Steatite and cari­bou bone 30.5 x 15.2 x 15.2 cm

Photo Sa­man­tha Jacque

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3 Nin­geok carv­ing out­side in Postville, 2016

Photo Camille Usher

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