Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools (4 stars)

This article is from 2019

Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools

credit: Jeremy Mimnagh

Mostly gentle cross-cultural conversation

Produced by Buddies in Bad Times, Kiinalik pairs queer folk singer Evalyn Parry and Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory, an Icelandic Inuk performance artist to take a trip through Canada's colonial history and musical legacies. Given a sudden burst of ferocious energy by Bathory's uaajeerneq, a mask dance both sexual and aggressive, it is an even-tempered conversation that offers few answers to the problems of colonialism, but conjures pertinent questions.

Parry's relationship to traditional European-inspired folk music provides much of the accompaniment to their journey, which began in their meeting on-board a ship that offered young people a journey around the ice-ridden seas between Canada and Iceland, but her friendship with Bathory, tentative at first, encourages a deeper engagement with the problematic imperialism that dogs even the protest songs. Finding the connection between the two performers' lives, it allows for a cross-cultural ramble that isn't always focussed, but gradually develops a subtle outrage at the treatment of Indigenous people, and explores ways to build on common ground.

The mask dance is an intrusion into the gentle tone: the topics covered include the problems of renaming locations, the relationship of people to the land and the possibilities of friendship between individuals despite their respective cultures oppositional positions. There is a great respect afforded to the performers, to the ongoing project of rebuilding Canada as a nation that addresses its imperial history, and a recognition that while art can't complete the process, it can provide reports from the engagements.

Reviewed at The Studio. Run ended.

Kiinalik: These Sharp Tools

  • 4 stars

A dramatic meeting between two extraordinary artists, and between the northern and southern extremes of Canada. In the Inuktitut language, when a knife is dull, it is said to ‘have no face’. The word ‘kiinalik’ translates to mean the knife is sharp — or, ‘it has a face’. In Kiinalik, Evalyn Parry’s heartfelt personal…