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Untitled (Everyone has Died of Starvation), 1999-2000

Napachie Pootoogook
Canadian (Inuit), 1938 - 2002
black felt pen over graphite on cream wove paper
50.9 x 66 cm
Purchased 2009
National Gallery of Canada (no. 42575)

The artist’s Inuktitut inscription translates as: These people have starved. The child was suckling the mother’s breast but eventually she started gnawing the breast of her dead mother. She survived for awhile in that manner. Over five years, Napachie worked on a series of 300 drawings depicting events from her childhood in traditional camps. Starvation was a reality, and cannibalism occurred as the last resort. The entwined figures appear to be sleeping peacefully. Napachie’s description of the infant as the last to die after feeding off her mother, causes one to think about the complex yet basic instinct to survive.

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