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HAKAPIK [akapik] noun – From the Norwegian hakepigg, a club with a hook (hake, hook; pigg, point). A tool used in seal hunting.
“From 2012 to 2015, sensitive to a controversial subject, with its mix of cultural, economic, political, and aesthetic issues, I worked on a series of photographs dealing with the seal hunt, on the Magdalen Islands, in Newfoundland, and in Nunavut.
My project aims to document and to reflect on the very nature of a traditional activity rooted in the history of maritime communities, of northern Canada in particular. I had to join a team of hunters to carry out this project—and I first had to convince them. So I underwent training at Fisheries and Oceans Canada to obtain a seal-hunting license. I had to become a hunter myself because no boat would take a nonfunctional passenger on board. Thus, over the course of four years, I accompanied hunting parties on the ice in more than twenty expeditions.
I photographed this series in black and white. By ignoring color, I’m attempting to neutralize the sensationalism created by the view of red blood on white snow. I focus instead on the representation of the gesture and of the symbolism of the ritual, in order to emphasize the nobility of an activity that is deeply inscribed in a tradition.
I thus explore a psychological and aesthetic process of distantiation, in which the discoloration gives the viewer the opportunity to dwell on the construction of the image, on its lines, contrasts, and light.
In addition to the presentation of the body of work in the form of an exhibition, I believe the publication of a book is essential to ensure the continuity and transmission of this particular knowledge and practice, both for current and for future generations.”