HAKAPIK [akapik] n. m. – From Norwegian, meaning “Instrument used by seal hunters”.
From 2012 to 2015, I reported on seal hunt at Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Newfoundland and Nunavut, a controversial issue encompassing cultural, economic, politic and aesthetic dimensions.
My project’s aim is to document and ponder on the very nature of seal hunt, a traditional activity deeply rooted in the history of many maritime and nordic communities of Canada. In order to complete this project, I had to convince the very hunters I wanted to study, that I was one of them. No Captain will ever allow boarding of a useless passenger. Having been recognized as a seal hunter gave me the opportunity to accompany many crews on the ice, over a period of four years.
Black and white photography sort of neutralized the sensational side of red blood on white snow, emphasizing instead on gesture and symbolism of this ritual activity. The goal being to put forward the nobility of a deeply traditional activity.
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Born in 1981, Yoanis Menge studied photography at Cégep de Matane, in the province of Québec. He then pursued his training at Magnum of Paris in the next four years, assisting photographers like Josef Koudelka and Bruno Barbey.
Yoanis Menge’s artistic approach is anchored in documentary. His pictures encompass many aspects of both geographic and social landscapes of places he visits or inhabits. He is a member of KAHEM, a Québec collective.