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The gifts they gave

May 18th, 2018

drawing of a four headed sea creature in green, blue and greys

Kenojuak Ashevak, Seamaids, 1978. Stonecut on paper, Sheet: 61.7 × 91.8 cm. Gift of Samuel and Esther Sarick, Toronto, 2002. © Estate of Kenojuak Ashevak.

Did you know “tunirrusiangit” means “the gifts they gave” in Inuktitut?

Tunirrusiangit: Kenojuak Ashevak and Tim Pitsiulak, opening June 16, will showcase the gifts of two formidable artists – including over 100 works on paper by “the grandmother of Inuit art” Kenojuak Ashevak (1927–2013), and her nephew Tim Pitsiulak (1967–2016), one of the most sought-after contemporary Inuit artists in his lifetime.

A team of Inuit artists and curators will weave first-person narratives, storytelling, poetry and film through the exhibition. The curatorial team includes sculptor Koomuatuk Curley (based in Ottawa), writer and storyteller Taqralik Partridge (based in Kautokeino, Norway), curator Jocelyn Piirainen (based in Ottawa) and performer Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory (based in Iqaluit).

Marking a new type of curatorial collaboration at the AGO, the curators led the exhibition’s development at every stage, contributing new artworks and shaping everything from public programming to exhibition texts.

“Through the exhibition, we’ve aimed to create a bridge between the past and the future, and to give the public a unique view of the work of two incredible artists,” says Tunirrusiangit co-curator Jocelyn Pirrainen. “In Inuktitut, tunirrusiangit means ‘their gifts’ or ‘the gifts they gave.’ It’s a fitting exhibition title, since it recognizes the artists’ lasting legacies, while conveying how inspirational and impactful their work has been on each of us, as Inuit curators.”

Visitors to the exhibition will pass through Silaup Putunga (2018), a constantly changing projection created by curator and performer Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory (with videographer Jamie Griffiths). In a gallery featuring Kenojuak Ashevak’s images of summer hunting camps, visitors will be invited to sit in a qarmaq (a traditional sod house) to hear original stories written and shared by co-curator, writer and storyteller Taqralik Partridge. And throughout the exhibition, visitors will hear from the families of Kenojuak Ashevak and Tim Pitsiulak, in Inuktitut with English subtitles, thanks to interviews filmed by co-curator Koomuatuk Curley, an artist and sculptor from Kinngait (formerly known as Cape Dorset) who is also Tim Pitsiulak’s nephew.

Check out below some of the gorgeous works on paper by Kenojuak Ashevak and Tim Pitiuslak you’ll see in the exhibition.

Stay tuned for more AGOinsider stories about this exciting exhibition. Tunirrusiangit: Kenojuak Ashevak and Tim Pitsiulak is included in General Admission and runs at the AGO from June 16 to August 12, 2018. Don’t miss it!

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Tunirrusiangit: Kenojuak Ashevak and Tim Pitsiulak is organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario in partnership with Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage, with the support of Dorset Fine Arts, a division of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative. 

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