The Bone Carver chronicles Sylvester Ayek, who grew up on King Island, 90 miles northwest of Nome, Alaska, and today lives in Nome. Ayek gets his food from subsistence hunting and fishing and his money from his artwork, carvings of ivory and wood, which he sells on Etsy.
Etsy, you might be surprised to learn, put together this short film as part of its series on featured sellers, and I found it compelling, mainly on the strength of Ayek’s calm, considered presence. The inflections of his voice, his wizened face, the inescapable impulse to imagine his days…it doesn’t hurt that I’ve been obsessed with polar regions and their people for a couple of decades, but even if you don’t know an Inuit from an Iñupiat, The Bone Carver still makes for a short, powerful escape to another place and another life.
Declination is other places, other spaces, and the things that happen there.