Polaris prize

Tanya Tagaq takes home $30,000 for Animism

Don’t fuck with Tanya Tagaq.

Not only did the artist give the most arresting performance at the 2014 Polaris Prize gala at the Carlu on Monday night, September 22, but she also used her acceptance speech to encourage everyone to eat and wear seal, adding, “Fuck Peta” for good measure. (The animal rights organization called her out for her now infamous “sealfie” – a picture of her baby and a seal she posted on Twitter.)

“People should wear and eat seal as much as possible, because if you can imagine an indigenous culture thriving and surviving on sustainable resource, wearing seal and eating it, it’s delicious and there’s lots of them,” said the artist, onstage with her daughter after the night’s host, actor Jay Baruchel, announced the winner to loud applause.

The Nunavut-raised, Manitoba-based throat singer’s extraordinary album, Animism – a mostly wordless adventure in throat singing, experimental strings, electronic beats and Northern field recordings – triumphed over mainstream mega-acts (Drake, Arcade Fire) as well as lower-profile artists like Basia Bulat and Jessy Lanza.

Most of the shortlisted artists performed a song or two from their records for the AUX.TV-streamed show, with a few notable exceptions: Drake (who was playing a show in Hollywood with Lil Wayne), Arcade Fire and Yamantaka // Sonic Titan (though members of both were in the house) and Timber Timbre, who weren’t present. Mac DeMarco threw out the formula and played a tune from an older album.

Tagaq was in celebration mode, dancing to the evening’s house band, Dwane Gretzky, at the after-party. She wasn’t the only short-lister committed to the wee hours: an inebriated DeMarco had a few security warnings, removed his camo overalls for nude dancing and, once re-robed, managed to crowd-surf a very un-crowd-surfable dance floor. Kudos.

Shad was there, too, but kept his clothes on.


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