1 of 4
Isaac Etidloie, "Gymnast," serpentine, antler.
2 of 4
Jamesie Pitseolak, "Smoking Gun," serpentine, antler.
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"Elvis the Pelvis"
Johnny Manning, "Elvis the Pelvis," stone, antler.
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Reece Terris, "American Standard," colour photograph Plexi-mounted, 54” X 72”, edition of 3.
Anything but Ordinary: Contemporary Inuit Art
Through August, 2009
Inuit Art Gallery, Vancouver
By Beverly Cramp
Among the stone carvings of bears, birds, whales and other Arctic animals at the Inuit Art Gallery in Vancouver, are works that reflect a less traditional Northern life. Contemporary pieces by Mosesee Pootoogook, Isaaci Etidloie, Jamesie Pitseolak and Johnny Manning reveal a new sensibility shaped by access to computers, the Internet, and television. This is their experience of living in the north, one more separated from the landscape and wildlife than the lives their parents had there.
It includes TV imagery from California lifestyles, western icons like Elvis Presley, popular culture, guns and violence. Dramatic changes in Inuit life, the rapid transfer from a nomadic life to settlement, surrounded by the props and images of a modern life, create a sense of the surreal.
This new contemporary work is vibrant, if troubling at times, and much of the work is made to display a double meaning. Jamesie Pitseolak’s Smoking Gun, carved from serpentine and antler, is an old-fashioned handgun with a pipe sticking out of the barrel. The work combines a traditional Inuit activity — pipe-smoking — with a play on English wording.The Gymnast, a serpentine and antler carving by Isaaci Etidloie, could be an Inuit athlete, from the tradition of Inuit games, or a version of a modern gymnast.
The Inuit Art Gallery will keep these contemporary works, all carved by artists between the ages of 32 and 41, on display through the summer. They give an immediate, modern context to the more traditional work in the gallery.