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Luther Konadu
Floe Edge at Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Art
October 11, 2017

Floe Edge, currently on display at Urban Shaman, is an eclectic compilation of contemporary works coming out of the expanses of Nunavut territory. For the Winnipeg stop of this touring exhibition, we get to see approximately twenty contributions by artists and art collectives that live and work in the region. Art making is just one facet of their multidirectional practices. In fact, very few of them work exclusively as artists. They are educators, organizers, facilitators, seamstresses, former mayors, authors, community activists, and hunters. What unites them is their use of the document – be it photography, object making, garments, drawings, video, and/or sound – to map stories of people, place, and culture.

Nicole Camphaug

As viewers enter the gallery, they are greeted by Shuvinai Ashoona’s life-size drawing of an intimate domestic scene with three women draped in colourful attire. Their eyes are cast downward as they perform household chores. There is an economy in the line work that adds to the delicacy of the figures and forms, but they nevertheless appear methodically rendered. Around the corner are Ningeokuluk Teevee’s contorted and surreal colour pencil drawings and Tim Pitsiulak’s realist depictions of wildlife and the land.

Multichannel video projections by the five-person art collective Gauge document the temporary paintings they compose on natural walls of ice. Working through extreme temperatures and shifting tides, the collective creates epic gestural colour markings that disappear within a twelve-hour cycle as the frozen floors gradually rise and cover the painted surfaces. Accompanying the video is an audio component by another collective – PA System. You can hear a stream of field recordings from the site of the paintings as the ice walls disappear and reappear. Both pieces are presented through time-lapse playback and the shift makes them more than mere documents. They become art objects themselves.

In a separate room Mona Nester’s sculpture is suspended atop a base in the shape of a colossal iceberg. Her figure is a hunter adorned in sealskin and holding a kakivak as though to strike a hunt. With an added spotlight, the piece monumentalizes the importance of hunting in Northern communities. Other sculpture-oriented pieces include Nala Peter and Nicole Camphaug’s inversions on contemporary apparel as one embellishes underwear and the other footwear with sealskin to preserve their traditional garment making while imprinting these traditions on modern consumer goods. Lavinia Van Heuvelen, Jamasie Pitseolak, Mathew Nuqingaq, and Igah Hainnu all contribute palm-sized sculptures that highlight their inventiveness and technical skill in using disparate but local materials (ivory, silver, muskox horn and soapstone) to create objects that are as whimsical as they are functional.

Niore Iqalukjuak

Lastly, Niore Iqalukjuak offers luminous colour photographs of a number of sites in his Nunavut community including Nattiqsujuk and Nilaktarvik. In addition to making the allure of the landscape visible, he provides an intimate glimpse of the land from the perspective of someone who is a part it as opposed to a visitor.

Floe Edge succeeds purely as an amalgam of documents of a people by the people they document. Although Nunavut has a widespread population of creatives and this exhibition outlines only a few, it chronicles trends in a community that are divergent, nuanced, and beyond the generally accepted view of art coming out of this part of the world.

Floe Edge continues until October 14.
Urban Sharman Contemporary Aboriginal Art:
The gallery is not accessible.

Luther Konadu makes things such as photographs, paintings, and prints which he occasionally calls art. He self-describes as a transcriber. He contributes content to a publication called Public Parking. Most days his favourite colour is green and one of his goals in life is to never be an art brat. He is Akimblog’s Winnipeg correspondent and can be followed on Instagram @public_parking.



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