Jay Sanders

Bear Fetus amulet from Punuk or Thule culture, western Alaska, ca. 500, walrus ivory, 2 1/2 x 1 1/8 x 3/4". From “Upside Down: Arctic Realities.”

1 “Upside Down: Arctic Realities” (Menil Collection, Houston; curated by Edmund Carpenter) Organized by the late anthropologist, filmmaker, and media theorist Edmund Carpenter, this exhibition of ancient art and objects from the Arctic foregrounded the artifacts’ original sensory and environmental contexts. With mostly very small amulets, funerary offerings, and hunting tools—often carved from walrus ivory and seeming to defy frontality or vertical orientation—Arctic cultures expressed the complexity of utilitarian and spiritual life in an unstable landscape that can fundamentally lose its horizon, merge ground with air, and fully disappear. Artist Doug Wheeler’s surprisingly powerful exhibition design reconfigured the Menil’s wide-open 6,400 square-foot gallery space into a vast, edgeless atmosphere, lit with hazy neon and enveloping the diminutive clusters of

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