Thursday, October 14, 2010

The New Raw - The Challenge of Today's Arctic Art

The New Christ by Jutai Toonoo, 2008.

I am caught in a time warp when I think of Inuit art. I see seals and hunters with spears and birds. But what is the new reality?

The West Baffin Art Cooperative has to deal with this on a daily basis for it seems that art galleries are of two minds in the south. Some more avant guarde galleries are willing to step out on a limb and to capture the new cultural realities of the north, but more often then not Galleries opt for traditional, nostalgic works.

Its time to take a good hard look at Arctic life. Dogsleds, and igloos are part of the fading Arctic past. If you go into any arctic community today you will find prefabricated homes, snowmobiles, and all terrain vehicles (quads). When I was in Saniquiluak in the Belcher Islands, I saw a wire running from the back of a small house and learned that this was the village radio station. Airplanes and ships from the south carry televisions sets, computers and southern appliances these northern villages and within 30 years time the culture of the north has been dramatically rewritten.

The question is. What is the new reality? As the traditional Inuit way of life slides slowly into the past, younger artists are becoming increasingly more attuned to these changes. Does the image of a polar bear swimmming among cola cans, helicopters carrying wealthy southern hunters and trucks carrying products from ships to the Northern Store, have a place in today's Inuit art? The answer would be yes. But can it find a market in a population where art buyers prefer traditional Inuit images?

Please click here, to be taken to a Radio Canada International Video, documentary which profiles this issue. Its about ten minutes long but it will forever change the way you see Inuit art.

Also, Eye on the Arctic: The New Raw. Please click here.

Sources: CBC Radio Oct. 8th, 2010 and Radio Canada International

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