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Art Inuit : Formes de l'Ame et Représentations de l'Etre. : Histoire de l'art et anthropologie

Abstract : Relying on extensive field work, both in remote Arctic communities and outpost camps, and inside Canadian art collections, Cecile Pelaudeix's book presents a critical analysis of the Western perception of Inuit art, the theoretical assumptions underlying art history and anthropology discourse, and proposes a renewed interpretation of Kenojuak Ashevak's work (1959-2002), as well as a new understanding of contemporary Inuit art works at large. The author accords art work a deep meaning by revealing, in a wide range of Inuit art works, an expression of the Inuit soul, an "intensity of being" named tarniq for human beings, which is used to affirm a specific identity, in particular when it comes to feminine works. The method relies mainly on Aby Warburg's iconology. Cecile Pelaudeix shows the limits of a model of linear temporality where cultural time and natural time artificially coincide, arguing that such a model does not allow for a convincing articulation of art and history - as Panofsky had proven - and demonstrates the pertinence of an approach that refers to a heterogeneous conception of time. In a first part, the author shows that the process of analyzing, marketing, and displaying Inuit prints reproduce the western motif of the origin and death of art, familiar to modernism. In a second part, the author examines the relation between cultural time and historical time before relying on Warburg's concept of Nachleben and the anthropological definition of sources, to focus on Kenojuak Ashevak's work. Pelaudeix reveals the meaning of beauty in Kenojuak's works, and shows how the artist's prints are anchored in an Inuit shared vision of the world as well as in the innovative way she promotes the Inuit feminine world and explores deeply the dynamic notions of duality, duel and duos. The third part of the book addresses the question of singularity and diversity in art history: the author extends the method to the analysis of other Inuit artists' work. The book concludes on the relevance of the method in understanding what Féneon called "les arts lointains" ("remote arts"), their singularity which cannot be reduced to a fantasized essentialism, and allows for a new approach to art history, a reconfiguration of its own artistic geography.
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Cecile Pelaudeix. Art Inuit : Formes de l'Ame et Représentations de l'Etre. : Histoire de l'art et anthropologie. Editions de Pise, pp.245, 2007, 978-2-9527533-1-9. ⟨hal-00859934⟩

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