Circumpolar art takes centre stage at Canadian exhibit

A new exhibit called Sakahàn, featuring works by indigenous artists from around the world, is currently underway at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

Eighty-two artists from 16 different countries are featured. Of those, 25 are indigenous artists from Arctic Canada, Alaska, Greenland and the Arctic regions of Norway, Finland and Sweden.

The strong showing proves just how dynamic work produced by circumpolar artists has become, says Christine Lalonde, associate curator of indigenous art at the National Gallery of Canada.

“There’s a great richness to the northern artists in terms of the media,” she says, listing film, photography, site specific installations, drawing, painting and sculpture.

And though the artists featured in Sakahàn share similar concerns globally, Lalonde says certain features of the northern artists’ work stand out.

“Their starting point is very much a personal one,” she says. “So while the message may be political, cultural, social, it always starts with a personal narrative or connection to their subject.”

Shuvinai Ashoona, from Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, Da-ka-xeen Mehner from Alaska, Saami artist Outi Pieski from Finland and Inuk Silis Høegh from Greenland, are just an example of some of the artists represented in the exhibition.

To find out more, I spoke with Christine Lalonde about the northern artists and artworks featured at Sakahàn.

To listen to our conversation, click here

For a complete lists of Sakahàn artists, click here

The exhibit runs until September 2, 2013.

Related Links:

Sakahàn – National Gallery of Canada

Video: The New Raw – The changing face of Arctic Art

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying an culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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