toronto

Iris Häussler

Art Gallery of Ontario

Iris Häussler’s installation He Named Her Amber, 2007–2009—an ongoing project at the Art Gallery of Ontario—is an ingenious deception. Visitors are under the impression that they are simply taking a guided “archaeological” tour of the Grange, Toronto’s oldest mansion (built in 1815) and the first home of the AGO’s collection; a glass doorway connects the Grange to the adjacent, newly renovated museum building. The tour guide spins an elaborate tale about a young Irish servant from Kilkenny, Mary O’Shea, who resided there and developed the curious habit of making objects out of beeswax and hiding them within the building’s walls and beneath its floors. The Grange’s butler at the time, Henry Whyte, made a map of the house identifying the location of thirty-four objects hoarded by O’Shea (whom he nicknamed “Amber”) between 1828 and 1857. This newly discovered document, the guide explains,

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