This weekend, the Sobey Art Award—the top prize in Canadian Art—announced its 2021 winner, Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, who is a mutli-disciplinary, perfromance-focused artist and kalaaleq (Greenlandic Inuk) based in Iqaluit, Nunavut.
Bathory took home a $100,000 purse, a sign that the Nova Scotian-funded award has returned to its pre-pandemic prize structure (last year, everyone on the jury-selected long list of 25 Canadian artists received a $25,000 purse and equal bragging rights). Fellow shortlisters each pocketed $25,000 while those on the long list—including Halifax artists Lou Sheppard and Carrie Allison—get to take home $10,000 each.
Bathory is known for performing a Greelandic mask dance called uaajeerned."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] does not have potable water coming from the taps, I am proud to be recognized as I tell you the story of a momentous experience my family had on the land," Bathory said in a release accepting the award. "As an Inuk, an artist, a mother and a family member, I can only tell you my story and this one is joy and celebration, awe and difficulty, beauty and destruction all at once. Qujannamiik, thank you for this incredible prize."