Akun­nit­tinni: A Kin­ngait Fam­ily Por­trait

Inuit Art Quarterly - - REVIEWS - Michelle McGeough

It is a rare op­por­tu­nity for a mu­seum au­di­ence this far south of the 49th par­al­lel to ex­pe­ri­ence the rich­ness and nar­ra­tive qual­ity of Inuit art. Span­ning three gen­er­a­tions of artis­tic pro­duc­tion and fea­tur­ing the prints and draw­ings of Pit­se­o­lak Ashoona, Na­pachie Pootoo­gook and

An­nie Pootoo­gook, Akun­nit­tinni ad­dresses the ge­neal­ogy of a fam­ily of artists while of­fer­ing in­sight into con­tem­po­rary and his­tor­i­cal daily life in the Arc­tic. The ex­hi­bi­tion, cu­rated by An­drea Han­ley, gives each artist space in the in­ti­mate gallery to present their unique vis­ual de­pic­tion of Inuit his­tory, po­si­tion­ing a life lived on the land prior to set­tle­ment liv­ing along­side sto­ries of the con­tem­po­rary re­al­i­ties of North­ern life. This ar­range­ment gives the viewer the op­por­tu­nity to ap­pre­ci­ate the in­di­vid­ual artists’ ar­tic­u­la­tion of north­ern life and oral tra­di­tions.

Pit­se­o­lak Ashoona be­came an im­por­tant fig­ure in Inuit art af­ter tak­ing up draw­ing as means to sup­port her fam­ily, pro­duc­ing over 9,000 draw­ings dur­ing her pro­lific twenty-year ca­reer. Here, a se­lec­tion of the artist’s prints bril­liantly demon­strate her mas­tery of line and com­po­si­tion and her abil­ity to elo­quently ren­der the move­ment of a body through space. In Games of My Youth (1978), Pit­se­o­lak cap­tures Inuit girls at play, two of whom are de­picted play­ing an Inuit ball game, while a third is sus­pended mid-tackle with her play­mate.

Un­like her mother, Na­pachie Pootoo­gook’s nar­ra­tive im­agery de­picts a much harsher real­ity for Inuit women. She does not shy away from un­com­fort­able top­ics, and in do­ing so, chal­lenges any ide­al­ized no­tions one might have of north­ern life. Al­co­hol abuse, the sex­ual ex­ploita­tion of women, male dom­i­nance and can­ni­bal­ism all find ex­pres­sion in this body of Pootoo­gook’s work. Ren­dered pri­mar­ily in pen and coloured crayon on paper, these prints are

Pit­se­o­lak Ashoona (1904—1983 Cape Dorset) Dogs Eat the Seal 1981 Stone­cut & sten­cil 42 x 48 cm All works col­lec­tion Ed­ward J. Guar­ino All cour­tesy Dorset Fine Arts Top: An­nie Pootoo­gook (b. 1969 Cape Dorset) Fam­ily Sleep­ing in a Tent 2003-04 Coloured...

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