THEME 19

True from False

(3 -31 December, 2020)

 

Fake native artifacts made by an English artisan in the 1950s. This is what Kaska Dena artist Joseph Tisiga chose to place at the center of his exhibition Somebody Nobody Was..., on view until May 23, 2021 at the Musée d'art de Joliette.

 

The visitors encounter objects that seem to have been created by First Nations artisans. Only those familiar with Indigenous cultures, and those with a sharp eye for detail, will understand that these objects were made in fact by a European craftsman.

 

This exhibition thus raises the question of the veracity of these objects. Of course, these objects are not what they claim to be; they are falsely Indigenous. Moreover, we are faced with an act of cultural appropriation.

 

At the time Oliver Jackson made these objects, the Indian Act prohibited traditional ceremonies, resulting in the confiscation of Indigenous works and a decrease in their production. Later, when First Nations were able to resume their ceremonies, their artifacts and part of the traditional knowledge had disappeared. To help them reclaim their art and practices, they took inspiration from Jackson's fakes.