March 26 – June 5, 2022

Great Bear Money Rock (2021–2022) is part of a larger research project being conducted by Ts̱ēmā Igharas and Erin Siddall exploring their shared interest in transmuting traumas of colonial extraction. In 2019, Ts̱ēmā and Erin went to Délįnę in Sahtu Dene Territories to seek passage to Port Radium, an abandoned uranium mine on the other side of Great Bear Lake (the eighth largest freshwater reserve in the world). Led by their Dene guides, they traveled 265 kilometers by boat to the mine where they gathered materials and audiovisual elements that laid the groundwork for their response. The journey was pivotal for both artists, not only in the work to follow but in their spiritual connection to the power of the land and lake.

In collaboration with Momenta Biennale de l’image, this commission was conceived in two iterations: first in Montreal in 2021, split between the Galerie de l’UQAM (Great Bear Lake Is the Boss, 2021) and VOX (The Lake Is a Cup, 2021), and later in Toronto in 2022 as a single installation.

Great Bear Money Rock traces how the land and the life of local Indigenous communities overlap. The Lake Is a Cup (2021) considers the material memories retained by the lake: What stories may be told by these waters if we become attuned to this more-than-human body? Made collaboratively, views of the ghost mine, Délįnę, and the lake, are splintered by projection through a water bottle balanced on a long, narrow prism. Like water, but also like bodies, the film accumulates radioactivity. The installation is permeated by the mechanical sounds made by the projector in an almost-organic cadence that constantly brings us back to our own bodies. Retracing the narratives conserved in the waters of the lake and in the rocks strewn around the landscape, Great Bear Money Rock exposes the imperceptible—that which evades our senses but whose effects are nonetheless profoundly physical.

Great Bear Lake is the Boss (2021) is composed of a garden of crystals from the site of the mine, enclosed in glass bubbles to contain the weak radioactivity they emit. Even though the glass is fragile, it plays a double protective role: it keeps us from contact with the ore, and it preserves the territory in its translucent showcase—territory threatened by human activity. Large-format prints placed on structures show the heaps of stones that cover the abandoned mine. Assembled field recordings, in sync with the projection, inundate these rubbly landscapes.

The artists would like to thank all who helped make this project a reality, including the Dene guides, glass artist Ariel Hill, and Sean Arden. Lān Mēduh!

Great Bear Money Rock (2021–2022) is commissioned by Momenta Biennale de l’image and the Toronto Biennial of Art with support from Galerie de l’UQAM, the Age of Union Alliance, and the Women Leading Initiative.

Audio Didactic:


Erin Siddall (lives in Vancouver, Canada) is a visual artist whose work encourages the viewer into thinking about the embodied experience of looking, beyond the subject at which they are looking. Erin’s practice also considers the photographic representation of the unrepresentable through invisible environmental hazards, hidden histories and traumatic events. She holds an MFA from the University of British Columbia and a BMA from Emily Carr University, both Vancouver, and has shown at venues including the Vancouver Art Gallery; Gallery 44, Toronto; the Burrard Art Foundation Studio, Vancouver; and Nuit Blanche Saskatoon.

Ts̱ēmā Igharas (Tahltan First Nation, born in Smithers, Canada) is an interdisciplinary artist. She uses a potlatch methodology to create conceptual artworks and teachings influenced by her mentorship in Northwest Coast formline design at K’saan, her studies in visual culture and her time in the mountains. Ts̱ēmā attended Emily Carr University of Art and Design (ECUAD), Vancouver, and received an MFA from OCAD U, Toronto. She won the 2018 Emily Award for outstanding ECUAD alumni and is one of the twenty-five 2020 Sobey Award winners.

Exhibition Site

5 Lower Jarvis

5 Lower Jarvis St
Toronto ON
M5E 1Z2