The Art of Arctic Sovereignty: Towards Visualizing the North as Canadian, 1927-1974
This dissertation deals with what I call the “visual culture of Arctic sovereignty” by attending to the political context of representations of the Arctic and Subarctic regions in Canadian modern art between 1927 and 1974. In the years covered by this study, Canada not only witnessed a number of state-sponsored expeditions of southern-based Canadian artists to “the Far North”—defined as the area north of the sixtieth parallel—but also saw the rapid growth and development of Inuit art through the promotional and organizational efforts of the Canadian government and cultural institutions. This dissertation argues that these developments in how art was created, organized, and then later circulated to audiences were part of a larger process on the part of southern Canadians to visibly define and assert Canada’s sovereign presence in the North using art. Drawing on primary source material and a wide range of secondary literature, this dissertation examines these government-sponsored initiatives in connection with the promotion of the artists’ works, to probe the ways in which Canadian art was mobilized to establish the idea of Canada’s northern sovereignty in the public mind. It focuses on the contemporary framing of the activities that were involved in the production, circulation, and exhibition of the artworks from the artistic ventures between 1927 and 1974, to uncover how efforts toward imagining the North were based on a mutual interest among artists, cultural organizations, and the state in advancing Canadian initiatives, both culturally and politically. In tracing the complex relationships that developed between the state, artists, and various private and public interests, this dissertation provides insight into how, and why, art was used to disseminate information about the Canadian North, and how such visual constructs—ranging from works by members of the Group of Seven to Inuit art—contributed to the collective imaginings of the region as “Canadian,” both at home and abroad.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/23788
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