Over the past decade, the world has felt the turbulence of extraordinary change and the Inuit art world has been no exception. The beginning of the 2010s saw a period of slow economic recovery and austerity policies following the global financial crisis that limited investment in the arts; meanwhile, the proliferation of new forms of social media sharing, such as Instagram, changed the way many artists have chosen to connect and market themselves; a new generation of artists emerged who prioritize new media, and have been pushing the world’s understanding of Inuit-made art, while the truth and reconciliation process in Canada made fundamental changes in the production and reception of Inuit and Indigenous art. Over the next ten days, the IAQ will look back at each year throughout this decade and share the highlights that have shaped the Inuit art landscape as we know it today.
To give you a taste, here are a few of the decade’s more significant milestones. The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games put all eyes on Canada early on, and Inuit-carved inuksuit became sought-after mementos of the Games for athletes and spectators alike. Opening 2011 at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the landmark exhibition Inuit Modern featured a staggering 75 artists and celebrated the transformation of contemporary Inuit art over the course of the 20th century.
The Winnipeg Art Gallery celebrated its centennial with Creation & Transformation: Defining Moments in Inuit Art in 2013 and included 115 works spanning six decades of Inuit artistic production. 2014 saw the awarding of the prestigious Polaris Prize to Inuk throat-singer Tanya Tagaq, making the art form a global phenomenon and 2015 marked the first ten years of the Labrador Inuit Land Claim Agreement, celebrated in part with the 2016 opening of SakKijâjuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut, the first-ever group showing from the region—which continues to be displayed today.
In 2018 and 2019 Kenojuak Ashevak’s iconic Enchanted Owl and Joe Talirunili’s Migration Boat broke records at auction. 2019 has continued to see momentum building in the Inuit art world as Inuvialuit artist Kablusiak was shortlisted for the Sobey award and Igloolik-based film collective Isuma represented Canada at the Venice Biennale. As we reflect together on the impact of the last ten years on the Inuit art market and the way Inuit artists have risen to increasing global visibility, we celebrate past accomplishments and look forward to what the next decade will bring.