Watch Your Head
Coach House Books, 2020
A warning, a movement, a collection borne of protest.
In Watch Your Head, poems, stories, essays, and artwork sound the alarm on the present and future consequences of the climate emergency. Ice caps are melting, wildfires are raging, and species extinction is accelerating. Dire predictions about the climate emergency from scientists, Indigenous land and water defenders, and striking school children have mostly been ignored by the very institutions – government, education, industry, and media – with the power to do something about it.
Writers and artists confront colonization, racism, and the social inequalities that are endemic to the climate crisis. Here the imagination amplifies and humanizes the science. These works are impassioned, desperate, hopeful, healing, transformative, and radical.
This is a call to climate-justice action.
Cover design by Ingrid Paulson
...Watch Your Head does not disappoint. It serves as a warning to heed, a reminder to be thought of often, and a well-thought-out piece of art. Throughout the anthology, readers encounter pieces that provoke and insist, demanding attention, consideration, action, and creativity. Essays and stories and images alike bring about questions and statements on Indigenous rights, white privilege, exploitation of land and people, colonial power structures, place, home, language, and imagination.
This anthology is not to be missed. The pandemic may have defined our year, but the climate crisis defines our time in geological history. See how this roster of talented writers and artists advance the conversation, put the crisis in context and call for climate justice.
I am from Nunatsiavut (in Labrador). We Inuit have always been known as “Sikumiut; People of the Sea”, meaning that we lived and survived by the sea ice as a means for subsistence, travel, traditional cultural practices (as well as contemporary). In the four Inuit Regions Nunatsiavut (in Labrador), Nunavik (in Arctic Quebec), Nunavut and Inuvialuit Settlement Region in the Western Arctic, we see the most effects of ice loss due to climate change.
Each year it takes longer for ice to form and as a result, hunter and trappers and community members are not able to go out on the ice or land, leading to less food for both hunter and community. Our Ice is melting and we are all at fault (humanity). We have no one else to blame but us and humans are contributing to loss of practices, changes in animal migration, traditions, community well-being, less time on the land and less interaction with the environment.
As an Inuk living in Ottawa, I ask myself, do people really understand the potential and real risk of climate change? How is it affecting our regions, our lives and our environment. Do we understand the consequences and effects associated with melting snow and ice; natural disasters, time, awareness, funding and polices or lack of them. Who is talking about it, who is concerned about it, and what are we going to do as a result of it? The images selected from my Ice Works is an attempt to bring awareness to and of climate change and global warming from an urban Inuk artist’s perspective.
Below are selected images from De-Iced photo series, on-going project
** Two of the photographs from the series, Policy Gone Awry and After the Melt, are part of the upcoming group exhibition Qautamaat | Every day / everyday at the Art Gallery of Guelph
Barry Pottle is an Inuk artist from Nunatsiavut in Labrador (Rigolet), now living in Ottawa, Ontario. He has worked with the Indigenous arts community for many years particularly in the city of Ottawa. Barry has always been interested in photography as a medium of artistic expression and as a way of exploring the world around him. Living in Ottawa, which has the largest urban population of Inuit outside the North, Barry has been able to stay connected to the greater Inuit community.
Through the camera’s len, Barry showcases the uniqueness of this community. Whether it is at a cultural gathering, family outings or the solitude of nature that photography allows, he captures the essence of Inuit life in Ottawa. From a regional perspective, living in the Nation’s Capital allows him to travel throughout the valley and beyond to explore and photograph people, places and events.
He believes that the concept of Urban Inuit is relatively new and for the most part unexplored (compared to other Urban Indigenous groups in Canada) so as an artist, he seeks to articulate this. “The camera,” he shares, “allows me to explore connection and continuity with my heritage and culture especially with regards to the contemporary reality of being an Urban Inuk.”
Barry’s photos have been published in a variety of magazines (Makivik Magazine, Inuktitut Magazine, Inuit Art Quarterly) and he has also contributed images to a number of community initiatives.
Watch Your Head is an online journal of creative works devoted to the climate crisis and climate justice.
New work is published monthly!
Check out our latest project: a print anthology published by Coach House Books!
Watch Your Head: Writers & Artists Respond to the Climate Crisis
Coach House Books
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