An Inuvialuk writer, born in Yellowknife, with family from Tuktoyaktuk and Sachs Harbour. Their previous work has been published in Coming Home: Stories from the Northwest Territories, as well as other publications, including Tusaayaksat Magazine. They have performed alongside many Indigenous writers, including Richard Van Camp, Maria Campbell, and Marilyn Dumont. They currently live in Edmonton.
March 14–April 25, 2020
Listen to Kaitlyn Purcell reading their Postscript for the exhibition Metamorphic black rabbits unravel, 2020
discover Kablusiak’s Hidden Pictures give aways here
I recall our first conversation in the summer of 2018. Kablusiak was in Inuvik for an artist residency and I called them from Vancouver. The connection was patchy, and Kablusiak had to relocate to the hothouse, before we could continue talking. Our ensuing Skype, email and phone conversations encompassed different landscapes and time zones, across hothouses, kitchens, offices and studios between Inuvik, Vancouver, Calgary, Dawson City, and across the Pacific to Wellington.
These shifts in time zones and seasons formed a backdrop to our conversations. We initially discussed the possibility of staging an exhibition to coincide with the equinox or solstice. This timing with a seasonal shift seemed to hold and mark a desired promise. We finally landed on Friday March 13th, just 6 nights shy of the spring equinox. The title of the exhibition felt appropriate as the days become longer, as ublaak tikiyuak means ‘we reached the morning.’
ublaak tikiyuak brings together several works by Kablusiak that allude to feelings of cultural displacement and homesickness. While this sense of longing implies a persistent yearning for the elusive someone or someplace, Kablusiak gives these feelings a space to reside, through materials from their ancestral homeland in the Mackenzie Delta, Northwest Territories. Their sculptures are rendered in soapstone. The utility of soapstone as a material shifted significantly in the 1940s as a result of increased commercial demand and interest in Inuit artistic practices encouraged by the Canadian Handicraft Guild, with support from the Canadian Government. Since then soapstone, although not a ‘traditional’ material, has become closely associated with Inuit art. In Kablusiak’s hands, soapstone takes the form of belongings and domestic objects—a bottle of Listerine, lipstick, moon cups, butt plugs, cigarettes, alongside other goods such as pilot biscuits. Kablusiak’s humour extends to their drawings, simultaneously revealing a suburban malaise and a longing for home.
How do you share in this longing for home? In what ways do you carry the stories you inherit, as well as the ones you inhabit?
Commissioned as part of ublaak tikiyuak, Angunayuak (Kablusiak’s brother) wrote phantom, a poem that shapes such feelings shared between friends, siblings, lovers, family and alongside ancestors—distant and near. Kablusiak and Angunayuak evoke these moments, whether a rowdy invocation of Ernest Monias in an extended karaoke session, gifts of dried meat sent from home, fundraising galas at your local artist run centre, or binge-watching Netflix until you reach the morning with the company you want to keep.
Quyanainni Angunayuak, Holly, Arlin, Liam. Quyanainni to the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations. Quyanainni to the Sitsika, Piikani, Kaina, Tsuut’ina, Iyarhe Nakoda, Chiniki, Wesley, Bearspaw Nation and to the Metis Nation Region III. Pikpagiyapkin.
Thank you to Shannon Norberg of Jarvis Hall Gallery, and to the lenders who generously loaned the works for ublaak tikiyuak.