Looking at Inuit Art
Survival’s a miracle
for this chalk pastel on black paper
found rolled in a cardboard tube:
big bear and little man in life-or-death;
a mouth full of teeth, a knife in each hand.
You can see the artist has sewn stitches like these
in bear hide, has eaten the bear
and known the fear of being eaten.
How joyous they look: “Two Fish
Looking for Something to Eat” –
each biting the other’s tail –
the shaman too, dancing in his fish suit.
A joy to be part of all this eating
and being eaten, chasing and fleeing.
More life, they all say, never too much.
“I must eat every day,” says Annie Pootoogook
on video at the Carleton Gallery,
“that’s why I draw pictures.”
What has changed in these Cape Dorset drawings?
“Watching Hunting Shows on TV”
“Woman with Shopping Bags on Snowmobile”
“People Lining Up to Sell Artwork”
– new tools, new ways, the same hunger, fear and joy.
Only the shamans have departed.