In Inuktitut, the word Nunannguaq translates into “in the likeness of the earth,” which refers to a complex system used (like a map) to record ancient pathways. While travelling across the vast northern territories, the Inuit were guided by maps imprinted in the community’s collective memory rather than on skin or ivory. By using this type of ephemeral mapping, all travellers were encouraged to actively participate in the setting of directions and, consequently, developed highly sophisticated skills to observe and instantly interpret the land. This ability to swiftly memorize visual forms strongly influenced the works of Inuit artists and was noted by several European explorers who sought out Inuit assistance in their mapping efforts. The historical Inuit maps displayed in Nunannguaq: In the Likeness of the Earth provided an important visual context to the early works of Cape Dorset artists. Remaining in close relationship with the natural environment, several well-known artists such as Kiakshuk, Pitseolak Ashoona, Kenojuak Ashevak, Kananginak Pootoogook, and Pudlo Pudlat recreate a powerful story of a people belonging to the land rather than owning it.
Curated by Anna Stanisz