Performance artist, poet, actor, curator, storyteller and writer Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory has been shortlisted for the 2021 Sobey Art Award. Representing the Prairies and North category, Williamson Bathory is kalaaleq (Greenlandic Inuit) based in Iqaluit, NU.
Williamson Bathory made the shortlist alongside Gabi Dao (West Coast and Yukon), Rajni Perera (Ontario), Lorna Bauer (Quebec) and Rémi Belliveau (Atlantic). All five artists will receive $25,000 and be featured in an exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada from October 2021 to February 2022. The overall winner of the award will be announced in November.
Williamson Bathory is best-known for her practice of uaajeerneq, or Greenlandic mask dance, through which she educates both children and adults on the limits of human experience and works to advocate for Indigenous voices and gender equality.
Her artistic practice won her the inaugural Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award in 2018, as well as the inaugural Indigenous Artist Award of the Sinchi Foundation in 2020. She was commissioned by the National Gallery of Canada to produce work for Àbadakone | Continuous Fire | Feu continuel in 2019. She is the former Artistic Director of Qaggiavuut Society for Nunavut Performing Arts.
“These five shortlisted artists represent...the strength and future of contemporary art,” said Dr. Sasha Suda, Director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada, and Chair of the Sobey Art Award Jury. “What an extraordinary privilege to champion these brave emerging artistic voices.”
Williamson Bathory was among four circumpolar Indigenous artists to be longlisted for the Sobey Art Award this year alongside Glenn Gear, Tanya Lukin Linklater, and Maureen Gruben, the highest number ever represented on the longlist in the award’s 20 year history. They are the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth Inuit artists ever to make the longlist of the iconic award, and Williamson Bathory only the third to make the shortlist. Annie Pootoogook was nominated to the longlist in 2002, winning the prize in 2006; Mark Igloliorte and Couzyn van Heuvelen were longlisted in 2012 and 2018 respectively; Kablusiak was shortlisted in 2019, and most recently asinnajaq was longlisted in 2020, when the award was distributed amongst the whole longlist.
“I want to personally congratulate these five inspiring artists shortlisted for the 2021 Sobey Art Award” said Rob Sobey, Chair of the Sobey Art Foundation. “We are excited to celebrate their exceptional work at the National Gallery of Canada this fall.”
This year’s jury is composed of Suda; Nisk Imbeault, Director and Curator at the Galerie d'art Louise and Reuben-Cohen, University of Moncton; Emelie Chhangur, Director/Curator at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre; Tarah Hogue, Curator of Indigenous Art at Remai Modern; Adriano Pedrosa, Artistic Director at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand, Adam D. Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director at the Whitney Museum of American Art; Dominique Fontaine, an independent curator; and Joni Low, an independent curator and writer.