Long Time Floating on Ice Field
In many of celebrated Puvirnituq, Nunavik, QC, artist Joe Talirunili’s (c. 1893–1976) drawings and stories, ice is frequently referenced. At times ice could be an island of safety to build a camp or, at others, an enemy to humans that damages boats, cuts off passageways and melts quicker than anticipated, sending families fleeing into an umiak (boat) in search of a new home.
The stonecut print Long Time Floating on Ice Field displays this motif alongside his signature rugged style, depicting a set of daily activities. All of the figures are given equal space and size on the paper, seemingly offering no more importance to one action over another. The caribou appear like prehistoric creatures, unaware of the crouched hunter with his arrow lethally aimed at them. Another figure builds a snow house on the ice, while others traverse it. Here, Talirunili is documenting the days of subsistence living, showing people hunting for food and dependent on the seasonal migrations of Arctic animals that were integral to their survival. In a sense, it is an image of being in the world. It reaffirms that the life cycle transpiring on the ice floe is no different than the one taking place on land.
LEFT Joe Talirunili(c. 1893–1976 Puvirnituq)Long Time Floating on Ice Field1965Stonecut21 × 52.1 cmCOURTESY FEHELEY FINE ARTS