Kenojuak Ashevak Breaks Records at Auction
A copy of the 1960 print The Enchanted Owl by Kenojuak Ashevak, CC, ON, RCA (1927–2013) broke auction records on November 20, 2018, during a sale at Waddington’s in Toronto, ON. A “red tail” version of the print sold for $216,000, the highest amount paid for a print by a Canadian artist at auction and shattering the previous record held by Sybil Andrews’s
Speedway (1934), which sold for $129,000 in 2015.
Ashevak also held previous auction records for Inuit prints when another copy of The Enchanted Owl sold for $58,650 in 2001 and when Rabbit Eating Seaweed (1960) sold for $59,000 that same year. Based on a pencil drawing now in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, ON, an edition of 50 stonecut prints of the The Enchanted Owl were created for the second Kinngait Studios print release in 1960. The print, cut by Eegyvudluk Pootoogook
(1931–2000) and printed by Iyola Kingwatsiak (1933–2000), was released in two versions: 25 red and black and 25 green and black. The “red tail” version is the most coveted among collectors, commanding higher prices than the “green tail” version. The sale has also spurred renewed interest in establishing clear protocols by Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC), among many other groups, for artist resale rights.
Winnipeg Art Gallery Launches Indigenous Biennial
Following the success of the landmark 2018 exhibition INSURGENCE/RESURGENCE, which featured works by asinnajaq, Heather Campbell, Noah Qinuajua (1913–1960), Couzyn van Heuvelen and more, the Winnipeg Art Gallery announced the launch of the Winnipeg Indigenous Biennial on November 8, 2018. The inaugural edition titled To Draw Water will coincide with the opening of the Inuit Art Centre in 2020 and will be curated by the WAG’s Curator of Indigenous Art Jaimie Isaac and Chair in the History of Indigenous Art in North America at the University of Winnipeg Julie Nagam, drawing on ar tists living and working across Canada, Australia and New Zealand. “Contemporary Indigenous artists are producing some of the most relevant, innovative work, examining issues and exploring movements that are motivating art practice today,” Isaac and Nagam said in a joint statement. “Our curatorial research practices will bring for th these stories with a compendium of international narratives.”
The Winnipeg Indigenous Biennial joins other international Indigenous exhibitions such as the National Gallery of Canada’s Indigenous Quinquennial, the first of which, Sakahàn, opened in 2013.
City of Ottawa Art Collection Acquires New Work
As part of its 2018 acquisitions, the City of Ottawa announced in November that four photographs by Barry Pottle, three images by Katherine Takpannie and three drawings by Annie Pootoogook (1969–2016) would be added to its collection of almost 2,800 works by over 750 artists. Pottle’s still-life photographs Silverspoon 1 (2017) and Silverspoon II (2017) capture the richness of country food as well as the ceremony inherent in these communal practices while Takpannie’s performative work Pushing Through (2016) documents the artist’s experimentations with neon-tinted smoke bombs. Pootoogook’s coloured pencil
and ink drawings Family Home (2001), Composition (Listening to the Radio with Coffee) (2005) and Having Some Tea (2006) are characteristic of the artist’s larger body of work and frequent focus on quotidian moments. The works by Pottle, Takpannie and Pootoogook join previous acquisitions by Heather Campbell, Pitaloosie Saila, RCA and David Ruben Piqtoukun and were featured in the exhibition Kaleidoscope: 2018 Additions to the City of Ottawa Art Collection at the City Hall Art Gallery from December 6, 2018, to January 30, 2019.
The 2018 Peer Assessment Committee for the acquisition was comprised of Heather Campbell, Ottawa-based artist, curator and archivist, originally from Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, NL; Neven Lochhead, Director of Programming at SAW Video Media Art Centre; Natasha Mazurka, Coordinator and Professor at Algonquin College; artist Carl Stewart; and Melanie Yugo, Partnership and Networks Officer at Canada Council for the Arts.
Toronto Biennial of Art and Manif d’art to Highlight Inuit Artists
The Toronto Biennial of Art and Manif d’art, two large-scale national biennial contemporary art events in Toronto, ON, and Quebec City, QC, respectively, have released the preliminary list of artists to be featured, including those from the North.
During an in-depth presentation at Art Toronto on October 28, 2018, the Toronto Biennial announced the participants of the inaugural edition including Zacharias Kunuk, OC and Isuma as well as Embassy of Imagination. Senior curator Candice Hopkins, also on the curatorial team for the Canadian Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale, will be bringing Isuma’s project from Venice to Toronto and commissioning Embassy of Imagination and PA System— cover artists for the Inuit Art Quarterly’s Winter 2017 Futures issue—to create a new work to be installed along the city’s waterfront.
At a press conference in London, UK, on November 21, 2018, director of Ikon Gallery in Birmingham and curator for Manif d’art Jonathan Watkins released the names of 12 of the over 20 artists selected for the event, including Kinngait (Cape Dorset)-based graphic artist Shuvinai Ashoona, RCA. On December 4, 2018, following the initial release, Manif d’art announced the addition of Ikpiarjuk (Arctic Bay)-born sculptor Manasiah Akpaliapik and Sámi artist Britta Marakatt-Labba. Their work will join additional pieces by Meryl McMaster, Cornelia Parker and Tomás Saraceno, among others, in the main exhibition at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ) for the ninth edition titled Small Between the Stars, Large Against the Sky. The Toronto Biennial will open September 21, 2019, and run until December 2019 across various locations in Toronto, while Manif d’art will open at the MNBAQ and additional locations on February 19, 2019, in Quebec City.
Silla and Rise Receive Stingray Rising Star Award
During Mundial Montreal, North America’s World Music Summit, from November 13–16, 2018, in Montreal, QC, the Juno Award– nominated trio Silla and Rise received the Stingray Rising Star Award and a $2,000 prize. Comprised of Cynthia Pitsiulak, Charlotte Qamaniq and Erik Vani (aka Rise Ashen), Silla and Rise are known for their combination of throat-singing with hip-hop and electronic inspired beats. “Indigenous people worldwide are rising up and using our voice, music, culture and art to connect, celebrate and reconcile in a modern way,” says Silla and Rise. “We think it is just the beginning, and we’re really looking forward to what the future holds for Indigenous music.” The award will assist the trio in promoting their music within Canada as well as internationally.
Ociciwan Contemporary Art Collective Announces New Contemporary Art Centre
Summer 2019 will see the addition of a new contemporary art space in downtown Edmonton, AB. On November 16, 2018, Ociciwan Contemporary Art Collective announced the opening of a non-profit, collective-run art centre dedicated solely to the presentation of contemporary Indigenous art: the Ociciwan Contemporary Art Centre. Retrofitting an existing 6,945-square-foot, two-storey building with the support of the City of Edmonton and Rockliff Pierzchajlo Kroman Architects Ltd., the new centre will feature a main floor gallery, meeting rooms, offices, a resource library and a community space.
Ociciwan’s past projects include Current Terrain, presented as part of imagineNATIVE 2018, which featured Inuvialuit artist Alberta Rose W., and A Parallel Excavation, featuring Duane Linklater and Aluttiq artist Tanya Lukin Linklater. The new facility will host a minimum of four exhibitions annually.
Kenojuak Ashevak (1927–2013 Kinngait)The Enchanted Owl 1960Stonecut55.8 × 65.7 cm COURTESY WADDINGTON’S
Barry Pottle(b. 1961 Ottawa)—Silverspoon II2017Digital photograph COURTESY CITY OF OTTAWA