Group Effort: Collaborative Works
This Portfolio brings together a unique collection of five collaborative projects produced by Inuit and non-Inuit teams comprised of both established and emerging artists. Including performance, sculpture, ceramic, drawing and printmaking, these works illustrate the manifold ways artists come together.
In the following Portfolio, the IAQ brings together 16 diverse artists gathered from Tuktoyaktuk, NT, to North West River, NL, working collaboratively across five unique projects. Ranging from an experimental performance that weaves together throat singing with advanced software and the dynamic, multi-authored ceramics from the Matchbox Gallery studios in Kangiqliniq (Rankin Inlet), NU, to layered drawings completed in Victoria, BC, the results of these group efforts are far more than the sum of their parts. Taken as a whole, the works featured on the following pages provide a brief sampling of the many ways in which contemporary Inuit and non-Inuit artists, across Inuit Nunangat and beyond, come together.
Completed at the Matchbox Gallery in Kangiqliniq (Rankin Inlet), NU, a studio known for its multi-authored and hand-built ceramic pieces, Enchanted Bear (2013) does not shy away from its collaborative nature. Relief images of human figures, hands and faces, created though what artist Leo Napayok describes as “drawing-carving” fill the musculature of Jack Nuviyak’s (1971–2016) base animal. A large loon rests on the bear’s neck as its sprawling wings form a pronounced shoulder blade.
The creature appears carefully positioned by John Kurok, known for his layered and interwoven avian forms. Finally, Roger Aksadjuak’s hand is reflected in the group of parka-clad men that emerge from the creature’s back— their shifting tonal surfaces produced from the studio’s smoke-firing technique. Each element is unique and bears the particular qualities of its maker. When read as a whole these narratives seem to slip together, with multiple voices and many hands contributing to a singular story that is enveloping and revealing with each new look.
Space is limited for collective artmaking across the North, particularly in Nunavik. Over two years working in the living room of Ivujivik- and Montreal-based artist and printmaker Lyne Bastien, Mary Paningajak, Qumaq Mangiuk Iyaituk and Passa Mangiuk, all from Ivujivik, QC, developed a series of linocuts that formed the basis of the four collaborative 28-panel prints, exhibited in the fall of 2018 as part of Convergence North/South at Feheley Fine Arts in Toronto, ON. “I make art to show how we survived on our land and how we used land in any way,” Iyaituk explains. “To pass on my language and culture is the most important thing to me.” Paningajak’s images of Arctic flora mix with Iyaituk’s depictions of time-honoured clothing— amautiit (women’s parkas), kamiik (boots) and mittens—alongside Mangiuk’s representations of sealskin stretching and an unaaq (harpoon) and Bastien’s abstracted forms to celebrate, preserve and relay traditional Inuit knowledge.
Issues of perspective, isolation and space were at the heart of the recent performance KATIMAJUIT, included as part of the 2018 SummerWorks Lab experimental programming and presented at their Performance Festival in Toronto, ON. Across four days of rehearsals, the throat singing duo The Sila Singers—North West River-born Jenna Broomfield and Iqaluit-born Malaya Bishop— worked with multimedia artist and director Maziar Ghaderi, along with a score produced by Toronto-based Ciara Adams and Ali Jafri of SAINTFIELD in a series of isolated practices and collaborative engagements. This diverse exchange, initiated by Ghaderi, applied Sahar Homami’s vocal visualization software to Broomfield and Bishop’s vocals to produce real-time images that transformed their sonic landscape into a tangible environment and complimented their performance built on traditional Inuit games. According to Broomfield, “we drew on our own personal experiences to shift the narrative of throat singing away from being animalistic to something that could actually be challenged as different environments.”
On a November afternoon in 2012, having never met before, Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU, graphic artist Qavavau Manumie and Victoria-based illustrator Luke Ramsey sat in Madrona Gallery in Victoria, BC, trading sheets of paper at approximately half-hour intervals. “There was this unspoken communication between them,” recalls Director Michael Warren, who first connected the pair. “You could see as the process evolved over the day, they began to anticipate each other’s language a bit more. You see these aspects of each artist’s voice come to the forefront in different elements of each work.” The result is four unique ink-on-paper works that combine Manumie’s distinct avian creatures and gestural forms with Ramsey’s graphic mark making. In one drawing, stylized wings spreading from an egg-like form contained within a dilapidated boat are distinctly Ramsey’s, while the beak of Manumie’s bird, its billowing teardrop wings containing smaller smiling droplets, appears to pull the vessel, and the collaboration, forward.
Bill Nasogaluak is no stranger to joint efforts: a talented carver, educator and trained electronics technician, Nasogaluak was a contributing artist and team leader for the deeply symbolic 1999 Northwest Territories parliamentary mace. Together, Nasogaluak’s team of sculptors, Allyson Simmie and Dolphus Cadieux, deftly captured the cultural richness and diversity of the newly established territory. Six panels, carved from marble harvested from the Precambrian Shield near Yellowknife, NT, compose the head of the mace, which contains depictions of the Inuvialuit, Dene, Métis and settler cultures as well as the land, waters and animals that comprise the territory. At the foot, a stylized narwhal tusk honours the previous mace while supporting a continuous landscape that transitions from mountains and foothills, to the delta and tundra, and back again as the mace spins. Within, the team included pebbles from the region’s 33 communities—an audible reminder of the larger population the object represents—and rests on a custom marble base that is none-the-less as symbolic as the mace itself. The resulting piece, and the collaboration, appear incapsulated by the apt inscription, written in ten different languages, on the band that divides the marble panels from the mace’s snowflake-crowned head: “One land, many voices.”
Roger Aksadjuak (b. 1972 Winnipeg) John Kurok (b. 1977 Kangiqliniq) Leo Napayok (b. 1961 Kangiqliniq) Jack Nuviyak(1971–2016 Kangiqliniq) — Enchanted Bear2013Smoke-fired porcelain 61 × 33 × 33 cm COURTESY MATCHBOX GALLERY
Passa Mangiuk (b. 1955 Ivujivik) — Convergence North/South2018 Linocut99 × 26 cm COURTESY FEHELEY FINE ARTS
Qavavau Manumie (b. 1958 Kinngait) Luke Ramsey — Boat and Bird2012Ink45.7 × 61 cm COURTESY MADRONA GALLERY
Bill Nasogaluak(b. 1953 Tuktoyaktuk) Dolphus Cadieux Allyson Simmie Parliamentary Mace of the Northwest Territories 1999Mixed media 150 cm COURTESY LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF THE NORTHWEST TERRITORIES