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Joseph Tisiga

Joseph Tisiga is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University as part of the Artist Project Series and was curated by former Assistant Curator Georgia Erger with Senior Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs Steven L. Bridges. Support for this series is provided by the MSU Federal Credit Union Artist Studio Series Endowment.

February 12, 2022–July 24, 2022

About the Exhibition

Joseph Tisiga presents critical perspectives on the history of occupation and land rights in North America in his creation of a large-scale installation for this next iteration of the Artist Project Series. Tisiga is well known for his paintings, sculptures, and works on paper that center narrative scenes and invented characters as a means to confront and distort colonial histories and power dynamics. With the opportunity to develop a new project for the exhibition, the artist physically manifests these ideas by transforming the gallery into a scene from one of his imagined episodes. Tisiga’s biting sense of humor combined with an air of mystery give drama to the unfolding of events, with visitors to the exhibition cast as potential protagonists in this story.

The installation itself describes an invented encounter between people of Indigenous and colonial-settler ancestry, a common narrative thread in the artist’s work. The images and fragmented stories presented throughout the gallery combine First Nations lore and colonial ideologies to reflect upon the real and imagined histories that construct notions of individual and collective identity. Elements of Tisiga’s work stem from personal experiences and narratives: The artist is a member of the Kaska Dena Nation, whose ancestral homelands include the Canadian-claimed Yukon territories. However, the blurring of identities—and boundaries—within the installation creates a sense of uncertainty, inviting visitors to enter and continue the story through their own imaginative offerings.

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