From 2021 Sobey Art Award-winner ᓛᒃᑯᓗᒃ Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory comes Naak silavit qeqqa?, a multimedia installation exploring the Inuit concept of sila – the life forces of the land (knowledge of the land, water, ice and environment).
The title of the exhibition, which translated to English from Kalaallisut (Greenlandic Inuktitut) means ‘Where is the middle of your sila?’ comes from an oft-repeated question in Laakkuluk's family that describes, says Laakkuluk, “our open-ended spiritual understanding of our place in existence.”
At the heart of the exhibition is Silaup Putunga (2018), a double-sided video installation by Laakkuluk and her long-time collaborator, Jamie Griffiths, that takes viewers onto nuna (Inuit land). Commissioned in 2018 by the AGO and Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage, York University, to accompany Tunirrusiangit, a retrospective exhibition for Kenojuak Ashevak and Tim Pitsiulak, the video features Laakkuluk as she performs uaajeerneq, a Greenlandic mask dance. Filmed on location in Tikkuut, about 23 km from Iqaluit, viewers encounter an ever-changing landscape and mask-scape in which Laakkuluk chops ice, drives a Ski-Doo, aims a gun and walks. Using algorithms designed by Griffiths, the artwork’s striking images and sounds are projected in an ever-changing sequence to produce an evolving narrative. The soundscape was performed by Laakkuluk and Celina Kalluk.
Curated by Georgiana Uhlyarik, Fredrik S. Eaton Curator, Canadian Art, the video installation is accompanied by a selection of soapstone carvings from the Williamson Collection at the AGO. Donated by Laakkuluk’s parents, British-born Dr. Robert G. Williamson and Greenland-born Dr. Karla Jessen Williamson, these small hand-carved objects, from the Kivalliq region of what is now Nunavut, reflect a lifetime of engagement with and searching for ‘sila’.
This exhibition is organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario