The rich tapestry of Inuit musical expression
Music Born of the Cold illustrates for the first time the diversity and breadth of Inuit musical expression in the visual and performing arts of the circumpolar North, from pre-colonial times to the present. The exhibition highlights the connections between visual art and drum dancing and throat singing. It also transports us to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a period when widespread colonial contact and exchange in the Arctic regions fostered Inuit adaptation of new instruments and musical ideas, leading to vital transformations in form and meaning in specific regional contexts.
Music Born of the Cold presents about 100 Inuit sculptures, prints, drawings and installations by renowned artists, including Karoo Ashevak, Kenojuak Ashevak, Pitseolak Ashoona, Mattiusi Iyaituk, David Ruben Piqtoukun, Annie Pootoogook, Kananginak Pootoogook, Jessie Oonark and Niap (Nancy Saunders). Brought together from the MMFA’s collection, the Avataq Cultural Institute and other local and international lenders, these artworks are juxtaposed with a rich body of museum objects, archival photographs, documents and field recordings that frame the context of the dynamic evolution and major cross-cultural transformations of Inuit music and aesthetics in the visual arts.
Credits and curatorial team
An exhibition organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. It is curated by Jean-Jacques Nattiez, ethnomusicologist and Professor Emeritus at Université de Montréal, and Lisa Qiluqqi Koperqualuk, Curator and Mediator of Inuit Art, MMFA.
Karoo Ashevak (1940-1974), Untitled (Drum Beater), about 1973, whale bone, ivory, black substance, 46.5 x 29.5 x 51.2 cm. MMFA, purchase, gift of L. Marguerite Vaughan. © Public Trustee of Nunavut, Estate of Karoo Ashevak. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest
Mattiusi Manukuluk Iyaituk (born in 1950), Much Power in the Words, 2005, granitic gneiss, caribou antler, muskox hair, 19 x 26.5 x 30 cm. MMFA, purchase, the Canada Council for the Arts’ Acquisition Assistance Program and the Serge Desroches Bequest. Photo MMFA, Christine Guest