Tales of an Empty Cabin: Somebody Nobody Was…

16 February–6 May 2019

Exhibition Overview


Joseph Tisiga, A Prop for Reconciliation Dilton, 2017. Oil on canvas mounted on artificial grass and wood panel, 66x66cm.

A cutting-edge navigation of identity and self by contemporary artist Joseph Tisiga.

Joseph Tisiga’s new and remixed productions are complemented by collages, oils on canvas and watercolours on paper borrowed from private and public collections including the National Gallery of Canada, RBC, Yukon Arts Centre and the Sncəwips Heritage Museum.

The exhibition’s title hinges upon a 1937 book by the English author-lecturer Archie Belaney, who masqueraded throughout Canada, America and the United Kingdom as a person of First Nations ancestry under the pseudonym Grey Owl. Similarly, Tisiga fills a wall tent with faux ‘Indian’ artifacts created by English-born Oliver Jackson for a roadside museum in Kelowna, B.C. during the late 1950s. Tisiga thus explores constructions of ‘Indianness’ for Euro-Canadian consumption.

His recent artificial turf assemblages offer simulated references to ‘the land’ as a central tenant within First Nations identity politics, while plaster-cast cigarette butts, lighters and other elements affixed to their respective surfaces are the debris of cultural dialogue. Similarly, Red Chief cut-outs stand in a room carpeted with artificial turf encouraging museum visitors to occupy a false territory and peer through a hole in the midriff of a First Nations man for a selfie.

Ultimately, the exhibition presents a cutting-edge navigation of identity and self by this Whitehorse-based artist of Kaska Dena ancestry.

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