Online Event – Tracing Arctic Voices in Art, Literature, Visual and Material Culture, c. 1750-1914

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Tracing Arctic Voices in Art, Literature, Visual and Material Culture, c. 1750-1914

Pre-conference Online Event

9 February 2023, 18:00-20:00 CET, Zoom

Hosted by Arctic Voices, UiT – The Arctic University of Norway

18:00-18:10 CET
Drs. Sigfrid Kjeldaas & Ingeborg Høvik

18:10-18:40 CET
Exploration, Exhibition, and Ephemera: The Arctic Panorama in the Nineteenth Century
Dr. Isabelle Gapp, University of Toronto
Chairs: Sigfrid Kjeldaas & Ingeborg Høvik

Short break  

18:45-19:15 CET
Reframing and Reclaiming Indigenous Arctic Narratives 
Dr. Beth Ginondidoy Leonard, Alaska Pacific University
Chair: Dr. Maria Williams with Ingeborg Høvik

19:15-19:45 CET
Retrace the Footsteps of Our Elders: Building Indigenous Pedagogies through Ahtna and Dena’ina Dene Stories 
Sondra Shaginoff-Stuart, University of Alaska Anchorage
Chair: Dr. Maria Williams with Ingeborg Høvik

19:45-19:50 CET
Short break

19:50-20:20 CET
Seal, Skin, Smoke: Inuit Textiles in the Global Nineteenth Century 
Bart Pushaw, University of Copenhagen 
Chairs: Ingeborg Høvik & Sigfrid Kjeldaas


Isabelle Gapp. The Arctic panorama has often been framed by conversations of the Victorian imperial imaginary, and was originally conceived to showcase Anglophone exploration, heroism, and settler colonialism. This paper instead explores the complementary and multifaceted visual representations of Arctic ice through the panorama’s role as the setting of Victorian exploration and as the backdrop to the exploitation of Indigenous peoples. Notably, I look at how the panorama often worked alongside polar ephemera and more importantly, living “exhibitions” of Inuit men, women, and children to perform the role of a colonial Arctic space. By recognising how glaciers and sea ice have been depicted, documented, and presented within panoramic media over the past two centuries, this paper contrasts how the nineteenth-century circular and peristrephic form was used to communicate and exhibit colonial exploration, extraction, and fantasies of the Arctic environment. The imagery under discussion is not restricted by national concerns, but rather moves across landscapes around the Circumpolar North, from Svalbard to the North American Arctic. With this focus, I explore the role of ice as an elemental matter in the panoramic image and argue for an understanding of the liveliness of ice (and the Arctic), grappling with its materiality, locality, and dynamic ability to inspire across spatial, temporal, and sensorial panoramic platforms.

Beth Ginondidoy Leonard. For millennia, Indigenous communities in the Arctic have transmitted complex epistemologies through oral traditions. In academia, however, Indigenous oral traditions are often viewed as ‘artifacts’ of the past. Interestingly, the term artifact derives from the Latin term ‘arte factum’, that is, ‘something made with skill’ – an etymology that acknowledges both the artistic abilities and skills of storytellers. This paper will focus on an analysis of “The Man and Wife,” a complex, cosmological narrative told in the Deg Xinag language by the late Belle Deacon of Grayling, Alaska. I will examine several aspects of this narrative, including an analysis of the title, descriptions of key characters, and an overview of the creation themes. I will conclude with suggestions for re-examining how Indigenous narratives are translated, how these narratives can be used in Indigenous educational contexts, and how these narratives can be used to reframe and recenter Indigenous peoples in Arctic histories.  

Sondra Shaginoff-Stuart. Traditionally, bilingualism was very common amongst Athabaskan speakers (Kari, 1990) in the Cook Inlet Region. This was the same for my grandfather’s generation. He traveled throughout the Western, Central Ahtna and Upper Dena’ina regions hunting and guiding, and he could speak Ahtna, Dena’ina and English fluently. There were no borders between Ahtna or Dena’ina, only now there are bordered regions, although these regions are reclaiming their travel systems and family connections that brings Ahtna and Dena’ina cultures together. Both languages have shared and stories, songs, and dances that have been passed down and recorded.  In my grandparent’s time Native speakers could speak multiple languages and were master guides and survivalist of the Alaskan country.  They were not limited to just one language as we are now.  In one generation our languages were separated and divided into regions, corporations, genocidal education, tuberculosis, and influenza.  This paper will focus on commonalty of both languages and how these languages have been shaped and reshaped through the shared stories and history of these languages.  

Bart Pushaw. In 1818, the mineralogist Karl Ludwig Giesecke donated two embroidered sealskin pouches to the forerunner of the Weltmuseum Wien. Collected around 1810 in Kalaallit Nunaat, the textiles belong to the design genre of tupassiviit, ornate tobacco pouches that Kalaallit women fashioned as lucrative trade items to navigate the colonial economy. Currently known as the earliest extant form of this genre, these textiles offer invaluable insight into how global art histories can center the knowledge and modes of making of Inuit women in the nineteenth century. I draw attention to how various logics of extraction coalesced in the transformation of an Arctic seal into a vessel for commodities of the global plantation. In doing so, I hope to reveal the entanglement of Inuit expressive culture with reality of Black enslavement. 

Feature Image: Disco, Greenland. The Expedition at anchor in the harbour, c. 1875-1876. Exhibition Title: The Light that Fills the World. Curator: René Picard, Canadian Embassy Art Gallery, Washington, D.C.; 1989.09.19-1990.01.15. Source: Library and Archives Canada, 1936-257 NPC.
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Isabelle Gapp is an Interdisciplinary Fellow in the Department of Art History at the University of Aberdeen. Her research and teaching considers the intersections between nineteenth and twentieth century landscape painting, gender, environmental history, and climate change across the Circumpolar North.

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