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i u a pi pu pa ti tu ta ki ku ka gi gu ga mi mu ma ni nu na si su sa li lu la ji ju ja vi vu va ri ru ra qi qu qa ngi ngu nga lhi lhu lha

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The Power of Nostalgia in Inuit Art

Inuit Art Foundation | November 12, 2021

Categories: news

The Power of Nostalgia in Inuit Art

Uqallaqatigiinngniq: Sharing Voices

While browsing all the works in the TD Corporate Art Collection, I was immediately captivated by this carving, Dog Sled (1949). Even though I only saw a small picture of it through a screen, I could imagine how striking it would be in person: the milky colour of the ivory and string, how the cotton is braided so tight it looks like sinew. With just two materials, Akpalialuk was able to capture a moment of familiarity and spark all these connections in my brain.

I was drawn to write about this Inuk tableau vivant not only for its quiet beauty, but also because it looks exactly like the Playmobil Set: 3466 that was released in 1985, which included a kayak and a dogsled. Seeing this sculpture hit me with nostalgia and unlocked memories that I thought I had forgotten. My brother and I had various components of the Playmobil Eskimo series: the kayak, the dolls with their weird detachable hoods, the seals, the jerry can, the sled, reins and dogs. I don't remember playing with the iglu or the penguins (Google tells me this set included penguins for some reason). I love that my parents bought that for us; it was probably the only toy that existed back then that offered a crumb of representation. I remember being obsessed with the set—tying down that little bundle of felt to the qamutik, snapping the mitts onto the doll’s wrists. I’m sure other kids (white kids) felt differently towards that set, playing with little Eskimo dolls as if they were playing with plastic dinosaurs; thinking about both as something that lived a long time ago but doesn’t exist anymore, something they only knew about because of that one time they learned about us in school.

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