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Untitled V from a Sacred Game: Escape is Perpetual

Joseph Tisiga, 2014


  • Mixed Media


Joseph Tisiga


Paper collage, oil on canvas


Mixed media


190.5 x 190.5 cm

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A member of the Kaska Dene Nation, Joseph Tisiga weaves together cultural iconographies and socio-political reference to critically examine the histories that have informed his Indigenous contemporaneity. Offering a multivocal lens, Tisiga’s collage works predominantly take shape as typologies, indexing cultural artifacts clipped from vintage reference books and encyclopedias set against a painted ground. In Untitled V, the picture plane is washed in green and flooded with cutouts of visual cultural material. Seemingly illogical, this confluent arrangement subverts the colonial and ethnographic prevalence of the artist’s excavated images. Prompted to channel how White Shaman, an archetypal character from Tisiga’s 2009 project, Indian Brand Corporation (IBC), would organize the same information, Untitled V frenetically binds a polarized array of artifacts and peoples into one narrative field.


The work I was making for [this 2014 series] was largely about quiet banality. And maybe this is part of growing up where I have, in Whitehorse, where I’ve spent most of my life. There’s this very sublime nothingness that’s always occurring. It’s the core of banality, for me; the way it’s been represented by, say, Samuel Beckett.

Within First Nations, Indigenous – or even non-Indigenous culture – we have these moments of incredible, supernatural occurrence. Like for instance the whole engagement in war, which is amazing to me as a social phenomena – that a mass of people could agree to participate in something so destructive and without real reason. We concoct or engineer these opportunities to go and do these incredible things like kill someone. On some level that’s a supernatural banality. It occurs all the time, it’s ingrained in our DNA. But that it happens is like magic.interview with Joseph Tisiga with Momus