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Meahcis / in the forest

Meahcis / in the forest

Taqralik Partridge in collaboration with Nils Ailo Utsi

Spoken word poet and writer Taqralik Partridge and artist and animator Nils Ailo Utsi live and work together as an artist team and a family. Their work is titled Meahcis, which means “In the Forest.” It consists of large black-and-white photographs of the place, the house, and outbuildings in Kautokeino, Norway, where they lived together with their dog and family. Their project is inspired by the children who lost their lives and were buried in unnamed graves on the sites of many residential schools in Canada, as well as a Sámi story, known across the Scandinavian arctic and Russia, about lost children whose spirits travel and how to guide them back home. The purpose of the story is to free both the spirits and their families, relieving those left behind of this loss. Words printed across the images of the landscape are affectionate terms of endearment that refer to children in both artists’ respective Native languages and cultures, as if calling the children back. At the same time, the fog, the silence, and the quiet of near darkness seem to be inhabited by memory and imaginings. Dogs are revered as guides, animals in touch with the world of the living and with spirits, Nils Ailo suggests; they protect those who cannot or could not protect themselves. The dog can be the relation between worlds that might not be visible to the human eye. The photomural is inspired by what the artists value greatly, a sense of the relation between waters, trees, and all the other beings, human and animal, that inhabit the world. It is an image of possible healing, a space without stress, and of being there in the moment. 

The artists’ hope is that we will see the land for its beauty as an environment and its capacity to heal the spirits of victims and their families. They hope for all the people who are on the campus to hear it in their own languages. 

About the Artists
Taqralik Partridge and Nils Ailo Utsi are an International Indigenous wife and husband duo and collaborators. Taqralik is a writer, spoken word poet, and curator originally from Kuujjuaq, Nunavut. Partridge’s writing focuses on both life in the north and in southern urban centres, as well as the experiences of Inuit. Her writing has been reproduced in Swedish and French translations, and she has toured with multiple orchestras and productions. Nils Ailo Utsi is a Sámi artist, and respected animator and illustrator form Kautokeino, Norway

Meahcis / in the forest is part of Tree Protection Zone, a transformative Indigenous-led public art exhibition at Hart House Circle. See works by other Tree Protection Zone artists: Shuvinai Ashoona, Susan Blight, Carrie Hill, Christi Belcourt (Onaman Collective), Isaac Murdoch (Onaman Collective), and Que Rock/Manitou Nemeen (Quentin Commanda).