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Exhibition challenges misconceptions of Inuit art through Remai Modern collection and new commissions

Annie Pitsiulak, Her Lamp Won't Stay Still, 1977, stencil cut, 13.3 x 36.1 cm. The Mendel Art Gallery Collection at Remai Modern. Acquired 1979.

For immediate release — October 26, 2021 

SASKATOON, CANADA — On October 30, Remai Modern opens Atautchikun | wȃhkôtamowin, an exhibition that highlights the depth and diversity of Inuit art through works from the museum’s collection and new commissions. Guest curated by Missy LeBlanc and Kablusiak, the exhibition highlights the fact that Inuit have always engaged in and responded to contemporary dialogues, media and technologies. The exhibition presents works from Remai Modern’s permanent collection that do not fit stereotypical expectations of Inuit art. In their use of abstraction, colour, style, and content, these works push against the notion of a culture frozen in time and challenge parochial conventions. 

“Throughout Remai Modern’s collection, there are examples of artworks that do not fit within the canon of Inuit art as we have come to know it. There are works from the 1960s that utilize motifs commonly found in Inuit art while experimenting with abstraction. These works engage in a dialogue with similar explorations happening in Modern Art. Printworks created in the 1970s are bathed in chartreuse—the colour of the decade—while works from the 1990s feature bold colour blocks similar to those found throughout popular culture at the time. Outliers in the collection, the colours and styles of these works push against the notion of a culture frozen in time,” LeBlanc and Kablusiak state in their curatorial essay.

Atautchikun | wȃhkôtamowin features the work of more than 40 artists from Remai Modern’s collection. The curators also wanted to acknowledge the presence of large collections of Inuit art housed across the Prairies, and to honour those whose lands the Remai Modern occupies. To this end, they invited artists with ancestral connections to the region to create new work or present existing works for the exhibition. Additionally, Atautchikun | wȃhkôtamowin features new works that were commissioned from artists with connections to Inuk artists represented in the museum’s collection. These familial conversations across time and space illustrate what Inuit art is and can be outside of colonial frameworks that focus on monetary gain.

The invited artists featured in Atautchikun | wȃhkôtamowin are Kyle Natkusiak Aleekuk, Tony Anguhalluq, Annie Beach, Tenille Campbell, Tarralik Duffy, Amanda Strong, and Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory. Their commissions speak to Indigenous autonomy, contemporary experiences, and the artists’ visions for the future.

“The inclusion of artists with familial ties to artists present in the collection was done to remind viewers that Inuit art is a continuum and exists in multiple forms. It is our hope that with the inclusion of artists and writers connected by land and kin, Atautchikun | wâhkôtamowin will continue a generative discussion on the threads that tie Inuit to Indigenous communities of the South,” write the guest curators.

Atautchikun | wâhkôtamowin runs from October 30, 2021 to March 13, 2022 in Remai Modern’s Collection Galleries. On Saturday, October 30 at 2 PM the guest curators and select artists will take part in an online conversation to celebrate the opening. Registration for the talk is free and takes place on Zoom. Visit remaimodern.org to sign up.

About the guest curators 

Kablusiak is a renowned multidisciplinary Inuvialuk artist and curator who uses Inuk ingenuity to create work in a variety of mediums including, but not limited to, lingerie, white flour, soapstone, permanent marker, bed sheets, felt, acrylic paint, and words. Their work explores the dis/connections between existence in the Inuit diaspora while maintaining family and community ties, the impacts of colonization on Inuit gender and sexuality expressions, as well as on health and wellbeing, and the everyday. Kablusiak holds a BFA in Drawing from the Alberta University of the Arts in Mohkinstsis, where they are currently based. In 2021, Kablusiak was part of a team of four Inuit curators who curated the inaugural exhibition for Qaumajuq, entitled INUA. In all of their creative work Kablusiak seeks to demystify Inuit art and create the space for Inuit-led representation of the diverse aspects of Inuit cultures. Kablusiak’s work can be found in the collections of the Indigenous Art Centre, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Art Gallery of Alberta, Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity and Global Affairs Visual Art Collection among others.

Missy LeBlanc (Métis, nêhiyaw, and Polish) is a curator, researcher, and writer based across the Prairies and is currently the Curatorial Resident at TRUCK Contemporary Art in Mohkinstsis/Calgary. In 2019, she was the winner of the Middlebrook Prize for Young Canadian Curators and a runner-up for the Canadian Art Writing Prize. LeBlanc holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alberta, double majoring in the History of Art, Design, and Visual Culture and Sociology (2015) and a Diploma in Arts & Cultural Management from MacEwan University (2017). LeBlanc is currently working towards obtaining a Master of Arts in Cultural Studies, Curatorial Practices at the University of Winnipeg. Grounded in modalities of relationality and care, LeBlanc’s curatorial and writing practice centres the voices and stories of those that have often been ignored by the historically white, patriarchal, heteronormative, and ableist art world. By providing platforms for people that have been marginalized to share their stories, LeBlanc aims to create spaces and environments that will produce equitable and sustainable change within the arts and cultural sectors. 

About Remai Modern

Remai Modern is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Traditional Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respects to First Nations and Métis ancestors and reaffirm our relationship with one another.

Remai Modern is a new museum of modern and contemporary art in Saskatoon. The museum is committed to affirming the powerful role that art and artists play in questioning, interpreting and defining the modern era.

Open since October 2017, Remai Modern is the largest contemporary art museum in western Canada and houses a collection of more than 8,000 works, including the world’s foremost collection of Picasso linocut prints.

Remai Modern would like to acknowledge the contributions of the Frank & Ellen Remai Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, SaskCulture through the Sask Lotteries Fund, SaskArts and the City of Saskatoon.


For additional information contact:

Stephanie McKay, Communications Manager

306.975.2242

smckay@remaimodern.org

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