Tsēmā Igharas

Curator: Natasha Chaykowski

Black Gold : exposition en ligne




Launch i
ncluding artist talk and a screening of In Oil We Trust, the documentation of a new performance work by Ts​​ēmā, presented by Ociciwan.

As more than 12,000 square kilometers of land — forests, grassy expanses, life — burned within the unceded territories now known as British Columbia, the east-moving wind from the Pacific Ocean pushed the ensuing smoke across the Rockies, shrouding Alberta in darkness. As the smoke wafted eastward, millions of barrels of heavy crude were pumped westward: these are the movements of black gold.

A project by Tāłtān artist Tsēmā Igharas, Black Gold approaches mining practices and the indisputably thriving yet ruinous extractive industries in the colonial states of British Columbia and Alberta, particularly within the context of the Athabasca oil sands and the pipelines that run from Alberta to the west coast. This project takes for start the idea that mined substances are inherently connected to our bodies through a shared geological origin. The energy of a molecule is the energy of a person is the energy of a place is the energy of a moment.

In Summer 2018, Tsēmā investigated these tensions through site-specific research and a residency supported by The Bows (formerly Untitled Art Society), which allowed her to delve into how these issues are made manifest on Treaty 7 Territory and Treaty 8 Territory, in comparison to how mining industries exist culturally, historically, politically, and economically in the unceded lands of the artist’s home territory, Tāłtān First Nation in northwestern British Columbia. Black Gold was presented at The Bows in 2019, and at grunt gallery in 2021.

Presented as part of Centre CLARK's programming, this third and final iteration of Black Gold is an interactive online exhibition of new and ongoing works. With design by Sébastien Aubin, the website was developed by Jordan (Joni) Schinkel, and created with the help of research assistants Haley McLean and Britany Quinn. This project was also supported by grunt gallery and the BC Arts Council.


Tsēmā Igharas is an interdisciplinary artist and a member of the Tāłtān First Nation. She uses a Potlatch methodology to create works in mediums including sculpture, installation, photography, sewing and performance. Her practice is informed by Northwest Coast Formline Design, her studies in visual culture, and time spent in the mountains. Her unique approach is a way to challenge the colonial value system and to promote relations to the land, through methods of care and strategies of resistance. Tsēmā has a Bachelor's degree from Emily Carr University of Art and Design and graduated from the Interdisciplinary Master's in Art, Media and Design program at OCADu. She is a founding board member of the first Tāłtān NGO, Tu’dese’cho Wholistic Indigenous Leadership Development for the betterment of youth, and serves on the board for the YVR Art Foundation. Tsēmā founded and coordinates Potlatch School, which  includes an Artist-in-Residence program and seasonal ceremonies in her home territory. In 2018, she won the Emily Award for outstanding ECUAD alumni, and was one of the winners of the 2020 Sobey Art Award. Tsēmā has exhibited across Canada and the US, and internationally in Mexico, Sweden, and Chile.

Natasha Chaykowski is a writer and curator based in Lethbridge, Alberta, on Treaty 7 Territory.