BY KIRSTEN BOLTON
Coming to ArtSpring on Monday, Nov. 13 is the unique Arctic duo pronounced “Pilk-Silk.”
With a style inspired by haunting northern beauty, sisters Inuksuk Mackay and Tiffany Ayalik are Inuit throat singers from Arctic Canada who blend their ancient traditional form with contemporary technology to create evocative soundscapes and improvisational compositions that change with every show.
Performing ancient traditional songs and eerie new compositions, they leave their listeners enthralled with their ability to weave complex emotional landscapes into narratives that transcend language.
In Inuktitut, a “piqsiq” is a storm where winds blow in a very specific way, making it seem as if the snow is falling back up towards the sky. This otherworldly, natural phenomenon became a source of inspiration for the duo, reminding them that things are not always as they seem.
With roots in Nunavut’s Kitikmeot and Kivalliq Regions, the sisters grew up in Yellowknife, NWT. They learned and practised katajjaq (Inuit-style throat singing), a meaningful cultural expression that bonded them and their community. Katajjaq games were traditionally played by two women singing face-to-face in a contest to see who could outlast the other.
Approaching adulthood, the sisters learned the extent to which their practice was discouraged, banned and almost disappeared by the 1960s due to shaming colonization practices of the government and the church.
In today’s revival, the sisters see sharing their work not only as music, but as a form of political protest. For the last two decades, through live acts, they have performed traditional singing, with new-technology improvisational looping, to create effects that tell a visceral story of ethereal winter darkness from their peoples’ perspective.
This special performance has been rescheduled to the holiday Monday, Nov. 13 at 2:30 p.m. to accommodate PIQSIQ’s requested appearance in Ottawa. ArtSpring is thrilled to be able to offer flexibility in bringing this important performance to Salt Spring.