Performer Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory has won the inaugural Indigenous Artist Award of the Sinchi Foundation, an international organization which seeks to uphold the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) by creating Indigenous allies around the world. “I am so very honoured to have received this award,” said Bathory in a statement released May 21, who will receive 2000 euros in prize money as part of the award, which recognizes Indigenous artists and performers from around the world in order to develop new audiences and raise awareness among the general public about their work.
Bathory is an established multidisciplinary artist based in Iqaluit, NU, whose practise centres on uaajeerneq, or Greenlandic mask dance, and also includes acting, drum dancing, music and writing. Through her work, she advocates for Indigenous political voices, decolonizing museum spaces, and gender equality in creative spaces.
Bathoryhas been featured in numerous exhibitions nationally and internationally, and was recently commissioned by the National Gallery of Canada to produce work for Àbadakone | Continuous Fire | Feu continuel (2019), about which a feature documentary was made by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. She is a frequent collaborator of renowned throat singer Tanya Tagaq, performing in her Retribution music video in 2016, and in 2018 won the inaugural Kenojuak Ashevak Memorial Award from the Inuit Art Foundation.
Jury members for the Sinchi award noted in their remarks how impactful they found Bathory’s work. “I was immediately drawn to the work of Laakkuluk,” said judge Jerome Kavanagh, a Maori multi-instrumentalist. “I could feel the spirit of her ancestors through her work very strongly and I was reminded of the essence of my own ancestors.”
Bathory plans to use the prize money to invest in a new collaborative artistic piece. “I’m very excited to be able to do a community oriented artistic project,” she says, adding that the piece will be based on a recent dream. Bathory will work with collaborators to create a short performance and video artwork featuring portraits of Inuit women and their hand gestures, accompanied by the bird calls of ten arctic birds.