The culture of the Inuit people – previously called Eskimos – had, and in a way still has, entirely original anthropological features characterized by harsh living conditions and age-old customs stemming from a difficult though perfect process of adaptation. The exhibition We Inuit. The people of the Arctic cold, staged by the Geiger Foundation and curated by the Art Director, Alessandro Schiavetti, offers a cross-section of Inuit traditional everyday life, with particular focus on livelihood activities such as fishing and hunting, transport means and entertainment, games and dances, and the beliefs linked to Arctic myths and legends. Ethnographic materials of great historical and artistic importance will be displayed, including clothing, work tools, hunting weapons, transport means, toys, household items and cult objects as well as art and statuettes in different materials, which were the results of the explorations and ethnographic research work carried out across Canada, Greenland and Alaska during the period stretching approximately from the late 19th century up to about the 1970s.
Even in the most westernized communities, the inhabitants of the great ice still retain many of their customs and habits and deeply believe in the values of their original culture, i.e. the search for a harmonious balance that allows the community to live in peace and serenity, for instance by adopting a different approach to the management and settlement of disputes as compared to the West; a strong sense of cooperation and sharing, essential for survival in such a hostile environment, which often avoided the outburst of open hostilities between groups; a very high regard for the family; respect for the elderly; the enhancement of the individual, intended as the development of one’s aptitudes and the respect for each person’s freedom to make decisions, provided the stability and harmony of the community are not jeopardized.
The ethnographic materials come from national and foreign museums, such as the Museum der Kulturen Basel, the Istituto Geografico Polare “S. Zavatti” of Fermo (the Marches), the Museo degli sguardi – Raccolte etnografiche di Rimini, the Guido Monzino Collection (FAI – Italian national trust fund, Villa del Balbianello, Lenno, Como), ItaliAmmassalik (Cultural and international cooperation association, Genoa), as well as from several private collections.
The items will be displayed in an appealing Arctic setting and contextualized by captions and essays on the lives and history of Inuit populations. Visitors will also be able to see unique historical photographs from the archives of the National Geographic Society and the Danish Arktisk Institut as well as watch ethnographic videos courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada.
In order to better contextualize the events and dynamics of circumarctic people, the exhibition will also offer an overview on the environmental problems affecting the North Pole and the negative consequences that they have on human settlements and on the Inuit way of life. The exhibition, which obtained the patronage of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Tuscany Regional Board, the Royal Embassy of Denmark, the Government of Nunavut and the Inuit Circumpolar Council, will be open to the public from Saturday 6 December 2014 to Sunday 25 January 2015, with free admission, at the Geiger Foundation Exhibition Hall in piazza Guerrazzi 32, Cecina, Livorno.
We Inuit. The People of the Arctic Cold
From 6 December 2014 to 25 January 2015
Exhibition Hall of the Hermann Geiger Cultural Foundation
Piazza Guerrazzi 32, Cecina (LI)
Open daily from 4 to 8 pm. Free admission.