Explore the Arctic landscape through the eyes of 2021 Sobey Art Award-winner

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Explore the Arctic landscape through the eyes of 2021 Sobey Art Award-winner
Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, Jamie Griffiths. Silaup Putunga, 2018. Soundscape by Celina Kalluk and Laakkuluk, dual screen projection onto custom translucent screen, four channel sound (video, sound, 35 minutes). Purchase, with funds from the Joan Chalmers Inuit Art Fund, 2019. © Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory and Jamie Griffiths. 2019/2324.

TORONTO.- From acclaimed Kalaaleq (Greenlandic Inuk) artist ᓛᒃᑯᓗᒃ Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory comes Naak silavit qeqqa?, a multimedia installation opening July 16 at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Incorporating video, soundscape and sculpture, the installation seeks to describe sila, the all-powerful Inuktitut word that captures the universe, the environment, and the intellect. Curated by Georgiana Uhlyarik, the AGO’s Fredrik S. Eaton Curator, Canadian Art, the installation will transform the AGO’s Fudger Rotunda and features texts in both English and Kalaallisut (Greenlandic). Admission to Naak silavit qeqqa? is free for AGO Members, Annual Passholders, all Indigenous Peoples and visitors 25 and under.

On view for the first time since its 2018 debut and at the heart of the installation, is Silaup Putunga (2018) -- a large-scale double-sided video, created by Laakkuluk and her long time collaborator Jamie Griffiths. Filmed on location in Tikkuut, Nunavut, the artwork was inspired by the artists’ desire to create a ‘living print’ that harnesses both printmaking and the life forces of the land. Designed as an evolving narrative and accompanied by a soundscape created by Celina Kalluk and Laakkuluk, the video features Laakkuluk performing uaajeerneq, a Greenlandic mask dance and follows as she chops ice, drives a skidoo, aims a gun and walks across the land.

“Naak silavit qeqqa? – which translates into English as Where is the middle of your sila? - is a question that my mother puzzled over when she was young and that has passed through the generations to my own children; three short words that cement our open-ended spiritual understanding of our place in existence,” says Laakkuluk. “In Silaup Putunga, Jamie Griffiths and I show the idea of sinking from one surface of reality to another by travelling through layers of my face, my mask and the landscape/icescape we live upon.”

The installation includes a selection of Inuit soapstone sculptures from the AGO’s Williamson Collection. Donated by Dr. Robert G. Williamson, O.C. and his wife, Dr. Karla Jessen Williamson – Laakkuluk’s parents – these sculptures were made in the Kivalliq region during the initial phase of Inuit resettlement into colonial institutions, a period that marked the beginning of the contemporary Inuit art movement. These sculptures, says Laakuluk, reflect her mother’s own search for sila.

Celebrate the opening of Naak silavit qeqqa? on July 16 at 2 p.m. and join artist ᓛᒃᑯᓗᒃ Laakkuluk and Jamie Griffiths, for a free screening of a selection of their short films followed by a Q&A in AGO’s Jackman Hall. The event also marks the launch of Qummut Qukiria!, a new anthology celebrating art and culture within and beyond traditional Inuit and Sámi homelands in the Circumpolar Arctic, edited by Anna Hudson, Heather Igloliorte and Jan-Erik Lundström. The book includes a chapter written by Laakkuluk, recounting the story of the killing of the polar bear, that later became the material for Laakkuluk’s Sobey Award winning installation in 2021. For details and to book your free ticket, visit ago.ca/events/laakkuluk-laakkuluk-williamson-bathory-and-jamie-griffiths.

Naak silavit qeqqa? will remain on view through Spring 2023. For more details on how to book your tickets or to become a Member or Annual Passholder, visit ago.ca.

Based in Iqaluit, NU, Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory (b. 1979) is a Kalaaleq (Greenlandic Inuk) multidisciplinary artist. Her practice centers on performing uaajeerneq (Greenlandic mask dance) and includes filmmaking, acting, curating, drum dancing, music, community art organizing and writing. An internationally acclaimed artist, she is the winner of the 2021 Sobey Art Award and 2020 inaugural Sinchi Indigenous Art Award. She frequently collaborates with other artists and is a strong advocate for Inuit artists.

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