Of Bowls and Voices

© M. A. Côté, 2011

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© M. A. Côté, 2011

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Of Bowls and Voices

Exhibition
April 27 – June 1, 2013

Opening
Saturday, April 27 at 5 pm

Performance
throat singers Lysa Iqaluk and Annesie Sarah Nowkawalk
Friday, May 3 at 6 pm and Saturday, May 4 at 2 pm

Tickets on sale at OBORO ($10)
as of April 23, 2013.
From Tuesday to Saturday, noon to 5 pm.
You can also call 514 844-3250 (credit card only).
No ticket reservation.

in collaboration with Festival ELEKTRA

My project is a visual and sound installation which also includes a series of clay drawings on paper. I produced this body of work in Inukjuak, Nunavik, over the summer of 2011 through a grant and an artist-in-residence program subsidised by the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, Aumaaggiivik (Nunavik Arts Secretariat), the Kativik Regional Government, and Air Inuit.

Eight throat singers sang with and in the porcelain bowls I made specifically for the occasion. I recorded their chants in four different locations: at the Avataq Cultural Institute, in the community family centre Sungirtuivik, in a traditional Inuit inter-seasonal dwelling called a qarmaq, and in a house that served as my residence for the time I was there. Along with the music, the recordings also include the conversations between the singers, the repetition of particular melodic motifs, and the ambient sounds of everyday life in the north.

I initially got the idea of singing and bowls when I heard Inuit singers in a concert given by the Montreal Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Kent Nagano. I was intrigued by the proximity of the singers’ mouths when singing and later asked one of them why were they so close to one another. She told me it was for the echo. This simple answer suddenly propelled my research into the world of Inuit vocal games, voice and echo. If sound reverberates through juxtaposed mouths, why not add to the phenomenon of sound reflection an element – porcelain bowls – capable in their very form of reverberation and resonance? It is around this question that my project Of Bowls and Voices finds its source and inspiration.

The installation includes four porcelain elements or diffusers that play back the recordings through hidden speakers. When, by chance, one of the throat singer’s voices finds itself in harmony with the resonance of a bowl, the sound seems to spin and elevate itself in a gyratory movement that coincides perfectly with the roundness of the bowls. And within the same movement and in the same space, the bowls and voices reform and situate for the eye and the ear a little bit of the North’s colour and intonation. The circularity of the mouth and the bowls and speakers, and the northern sky all play off one another.

Voices: Elisabeth Nalukturuk, Nellie Nappatuk, Sarah Naqtai, Phoebe Atagotaaluk-Aculiak, Lysa Kasudluak Iqaluk, Margaret Mina, Annesie Nowkawalk and Ida Oweetaluktuk.

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Marie A. Côté

For Marie A. Côté, everything begins with pottery. The pleasure she gets from turning a vessel has never diminished, despite the fact that she now mostly works in sculpture and installation. Much as every vessel asks to be filled, her work aims to show us the complex experience that links objects to spaces. We can easily imagine a space devoid of objects, but we cannot conceive of an object without the space that surrounds it. Having received several grants from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Canada Council for the Arts, Marie A. Côté has been exhibiting regularly since 1986. Her works can be found in many public art collections, including the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, the Canada Art Bank, the collection of the Musée national des beaux-art du Québec, the Loto-Québec collection, the Daniel Weetaluktuk Memorial Museum and Cultural Transmission Centre collection, in Inukjuak, as well as in many private collections.

Lysa Iqaluk

My name is Lysa Iqaluk. Born on September 2nd, 1989, I grew up in Inukjuak, Nunavik, where my parents and grand parents raised me and where I continue to live and work. As children our late grandmother, Patsauk Iqaluk, taught both my late sister Linda and I throat singing, named katajjait in Inuktitut. My grandmother was famous for her throat singing and traveled around the world to perform. As a teenager, I met my friend Annesie S. Nowkawalk, also a throat singer. In March 2005, we performed together at the Puvirnituq Snow Festival (village north of Inukjuak) and won first place in the throat singing contest. In 2009, we traveled to Toronto together with the support of the Anglican Church of Canada to perform. I would love to travel the world with my throat singing, just like my grandmother Patsauk Iqaluk did.

Annesie Sarah Nowkawalk

My name is Annesie Sarah Nowkawalk. Born on January 16th, 1990, I was raised in Inukjuak, Nunavik by my parents, Minnie N. Echalook and Noah Echalook. My father Noah is a well-known sculptor. His soapstone carvings are in important Canadian museum collections, like the National Gallery in Ottawa. I learned how to throat sing by listening to the local radio station. My mother wasn’t a throat singer but her mother was. By the time I was born my grandmother had already passed away, so I could not learn from her. As a teenager I met Lysa Iqaluk when we were 14 or 15 years old. Back then we started singing together. In 2005, we performed successfully at the Puvirnituq Snow Festival. Four years later, we traveled together with the support of the Anglican Church of Canada to perform in Toronto. Occasionally we are asked to perform during special celebrations in our community.