Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pop Cultural Products in Clyde River

I really need to learn a new word. I'm starting to annoy myself with cultural product this and cultural product that. All I really wanted to do was post a picture of my Spiderman hat and its turning into another cultural products post.

I bought this hat last September at a small craft fair in Clyde River, Baffin Island, Nunavut. When the cruise ship I was working on pulled in to town, the residents of Clyde River pulled out all the stops. The impression that Clyde River gives is a vibrant community that embraces the new alongside the traditional.
A teacher gave us a tour of the new cultural school, the first of its kind in Nunavut. It's a fantastic new building with bilingual Inuktitut and English computer labs, a state of the art wood shop and courses dedicated to teaching children traditional Inuit skills. It merges western curriculum with Inuit culture. The school also provides breakfasts for more than 1/3 of the community every day - children and adults.
In the community centre the town put on a show for us. There were demonstrations of traditional Inuit games followed up by a hip-hop performance by local dancers. It might sound like an odd combination, but the movements and athleticism required in the Inuit games led seemlessly into the high energy dancing of the hip hop troop. As we left, there were kids on ATVs selling narwhal tusks to passengers.

In that context, my Clyde River Spiderman hat means much more to me than just being a really cool hand-made object. The web design on the hat is actually a traditional Inuit snowhouse pattern (an igloo). But the knitter bent that design, did the snowhouse in red and black, and added the signature Spiderman eyes to create a completely unique product. She combined a traditional design with a 21st Century pop reference in a very cool Andy Warhol kind of way that perfectly sums up Clyde River for me.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Photo Captions:
Top Right, Clyde River Spiderman hat
Top Left, Inuktitut and English poster in the Nunavut Piqqusilirivvik Cultural School, Clyde River
Middle, The computers in the school lab had keyboards with Syllabic and Roman letters
Middle Right, One Foot High Kick demonstration
Bottom Left, Alaskan High Kick demonstration
Bottom Right, Clyde River Hip Hop dancers

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