Eye on the Arctic: Six Photographers to Watch

By June 5, 2017Feature

The IAQ is pleased to present this portfolio—a look at Inuit photography today—with some of the most notable artists working across the North.

Niore Iqalukjuak

Niore Iqalukjuak (b. 1966 Kangiqtugaapik) Ukiuq Nutaaaq tikiinuvuq/A New Year has Begun 2016 Courtesy the artist

This has been an incredible year for the Kangiqtugaapik (Clyde River)-based artist. In the past few months alone, Iqalukjuak travelled to London, England for the European opening of Floe Edge: Contemporary Art and Collaborations from Nunavut and was chosen to have one of his images, an illuminated igloo, applied to the tail of a First Air airplane. “Our land, the wildlife and people are all amazing,” explains the artist. “It is sometimes hard to capture that, but the best pictures are those that make you feel it, just from looking at them.” Up next, Iqalukujuak will be travelling through the Northwest Passage aboard a cruise ship to capture the ever-shifting landscape of the newly accessible route.

 

Brian Adams

Brian Adams (b. 1985 Anchorage) Point Hope, AK 2013 © Brian Adams

Adams, who readers might remember from our Spring 2016 Curator’s Choice, has been capturing the nuance and beauty of his native Alaska for several years. This work, part of the photographer’s Port Slope series, captures the co-existence of contemporary life and traditional practices. The unblemished cream of the polar bear skin delicately contrasts the muted green of the house; below it an abandoned can of Dr. Pepper is barely visible, tucked beneath a pile of wooden boards. Adams’ capacity to highlight the aesthetic qualities of every day moments through thoughtful framing and colour composition results in a body of work that skillfully draws us into his world.

 

Caroline Blechert

Caroline Blechert (b. 1987 Yellowknife/Vancouver) Creations of Our Elders 2016 Courtesy the artist

Although she might be better known for her intricate, geometric, beaded jewellery, Blechert’s interest in photography has been steadily growing. Now based in Santa Fe, NM, at the Institute of American Indian Arts, the Inuvialuit artist has been documenting her life in photographs and sharing them online through the blog Tea & Bannock for the past year. Blechert credits the project, which features the photography of seven Indigenous women across Canada, with providing a platform in which, “to express thoughts on culture and identity while living in an urban environment.” As evidenced in this image, the artist is particularly strong at capturing the intimacy of the human condition through tender portraits that expand the contours of the genre.

 

Aimo Kooniloosie Paniloo

Aimo Kooniloosie Paniloo (b. 1978 Kangiqtugaapik) Amosie Sivugat’s Cabin, Calm Before The Storm 2016 Courtesy the artist

A largely self-taught photographer, Paniloo learned the basics from Niore Iqalukjuak, also featured in this portfolio, and the late musician and photographer Peter Iqalukjuak. An avid night photographer, Paniloo has spent countless hours outdoors, capturing the “auroras dancing.” This work features a friend’s cabin in Naqsaq, located in Clyde Inlet. “When you are out in the cold and capturing the northern lights, time flies,” explains the artist. “You might go out for a couple of shots but then you realize, you’ve been out there for quite a while, an hour or two, even three at times.” The result is striking images that capture the natural beauty of Paniloo’s home alongside the markers of lives lived on the land.

 

David Kilabuk

David Kilabuk (b. 1962 Panniqtuuq) Raven 2016 © David Kilabuk Photography

Like many artists, Kilabuk’s photographic education began at home. “My dad had this Polaroid camera,” he explains. “I couldn’t use it as much as I wanted, as Dad needed to buy the film.” By the late 70s two of his brothers were using SLR cameras and Kilabuk quickly followed suit. In 2004 the artist switched to digital cameras, a move made possible with funds from a residential school settlement payment. It was the “best purchase I have made in my life,” he says. Today, his technically accomplished photos, predominantly images of his community, circulate widely on social media. “What’s the sense of taking pictures if you do not let people see them?” he asks. “Photos are made to be seen.”

 

Robert Kautuk

Robert Kautuk (b. 1984 Kangiqtugaapik) After Cutting Up Two Walruses, Iglulik 2016 © Qaummallak Photography

This stunning image was captured by Kautuk using a drone in July of 2016 near Iglulik. The group of hunters, part of a Piqqusilirivvik Inuit Cultural Learning Facility program out of Kangiqtugaapik (Clyde River), stopped for a quick picture after butchering two walruses they had recently harvested. Noting the high number of photographers currently working out of Kangiqtugaapik, Kautuk explains the prevalence is possible perhaps, “because the community is pretty small and we had nothing to do: no cell service, limited television growing up and only dial-up Internet until 2005.”

This is a feature story from the Winter 2016 issue of the Inuit Art Quarterly.

 

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