The Prophet is one of 46 previously unreleased prints from Cape Dorset that was featured in the 1994 McMichael Canadian Art Collection exhibition Cape Dorset Revisited (no. 9), which was accompanied by Susan Gustavison’s publication, Arctic Expressions: Inuit Art and the Canadian Eskimo Arts Council, 1961-1989.
This fascinating image anticipates Anirnik’s most famous print The Oracle from 1965. Printed two years before that work was created but released only in 1994, The Prophet is possibly a simplified version of the same subject. The Oracle certainly implies a conflation of shamanic and Christian imagery, while The Prophet, despite its title—which is probably not Anirnik’s own*—suggests perhaps a more “traditional” shamanic interpretation. Regardless of its exact meaning, Anirnik has conjured up a lovely and evocative scene.
*Interestingly, one early example of this print is inscribed with the title Blindman Talking with Birds – The Prophet. So Blind Man Talking with Birds might in fact be Anirnik’s own title.