Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory has won this year’s Sobey Art Award for emerging artists.
The Iqaluit-based Inuk multidisciplinary artist received the $100,000 prize at a ceremony at the National Gallery of Canada on Saturday.
She is known for performing uaajeerneq, a Greenlandic mask dance that involves storytelling centred around three elements: fear, humour and sexuality.
In a news release announcing the award, Williamson Bathory said she uses her art to tell her own story and that of her family, which she says is one of “joy and celebration, awe and difficulty, beauty and destruction all at once.”
“In a time when we recognize that this Canadian soil bears the small bodies of many thousands of Indigenous children, in an era when we work through colonial institutions to keep our families safe in the pandemic and at a moment when the Arctic city I live [in], I am proud to be recognized as I tell you the story of a momentous experience my family had on the land,” she said.
‘Defies preconceived notions’
The Sobey Art Award celebrates emerging talent in the contemporary visual arts and is jointly administered by the Sobey Art Foundation and the National Gallery of Canada.
The jury consisted of Canadian curators and two international jurors. In the release, they said Williamson Bathory “provocatively transforms the framework of references for contemporary art.”
“Williamson Bathory’s performance practice courageously defies preconceived notions through embodied lived experience,” the jury said. “Her works invite us to share in a world abundant with possibility infused with the interconnections of land, family, community and cultural knowledge.”
Williamson Bathory was chosen from a shortlist of five artists, each one representing a geographic region of Canada.
The four other shortlisted artists — Lorna Bauer, Rémi Belliveau, Gabi Dao, and Rajni Perera — received $25,000 each.
Along with Williamson Bathory, they are currently featured in an exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada until Feb. 20, 2022.
The remaining 20 longlisted artists received $10,000 each.