Table of contents

Introduction: Little Disrupters

Part One: A Novel in Three Dimensions

The Haptic Conceptual Artwork of Iris Häussler

Haptic Conceptual Art

The Museum Label’s Pact

Complicated Complicity: The Necessity of a Viewer

With Open Eyes: Revising the Historical Tour

Mistakenness and Disorientation: Responses to Iris Häussler’s Hoax

(Pissing?) On the Museum’s Authority

Part Two: Unsettling Images

Decolonizing Ethnographies in the Artworks of Brian Jungen, Jeff Wall, and Rebecca Belmore

Reverse Ethnography: Artistic Response to Colonialism and Classification

Dubious Origins: Paul Kane’s Nineteenth-Century Canadian Ethnographic Art

The Reverse Ethnography of Brian Jungen’s Sketches Solicited for Wall Drawings

The Near-Documentary Photography of Jeff Wall

Unsettling Acts of Remembrance: Rebecca Belmore’s Wild and Vigil

Part Three: Imagining the Author

The Heteronyms of Fernando Pessoa, Erín Moure, and David Solway

What Is a Heteronym?

Metaphoric Possibilities: Translating the As If of a Portuguese Shepherd

Collaborative Possibilities: The Interfering Theatrics of a Galacian Theatre Director

Critical Possibilities: A Greek Fisherman Suffering from the “Malady of Atwoodism”

Translational Possibilities: (Dis)comforts of the Mother Tongue

Conclusion: The Art of Stumbling

Description

This Is Not a Hoax shows how the work of some contemporary artists and writers intentionally disrupts the curatorial and authorial practices of the country’s most respected cultural institutions: art galleries, museums, and book publishers. This first ever study of contemporary Canadian hoaxes in visual art and literature asks why we trust authority in artistic works and how that trust manifests.

Reviews

The art forger concentrates on what our culture expects to see. Heather Jessup, in illuminating the lie, tells us some important truths about our personal, national, and earthly prejudices. This is Not a Hoax is an essential read in an era of fake news.

- Michael Winter

Heather Jessup asks us to look closely at how, and why, we believe what we do. Often funny, sometimes heartbreaking, and always highly readable, This Is Not A Hoax is essential reading for all of us right now - artists, writers, teachers, activists, citizens – who wrestle with making, or unmaking, the distinctions between fiction and non-fiction, truth and lies. Jessup’s smart, probing, entirely human study invites us to re-see and re-imagine our relationship to these categories, as well as to the hegemonic power structures implicit within every system of classification.

- Johanna Skibsrud

In this immensely readable book, Jessup makes the case for the necessity of disruption. This is Not a Hoax proves that our innate human gullibility can be a powerful tool for questioning the institutions and experiences that shape our lives.

- Mandy Len Catron

A parlour game? A sly wink-and-nod? A cruel but usually harmless trick perpetrated on the unwary? All of my previous associations with the hoax have been overturned by this elegantly argued, deeply thoughtful, and passionately political book. Drawing on an abundance of examples from visual arts and literature produced in Canada, Heather Jessup shows us how these seemingly momentary glitches in the fabric of our deeply held assumptions and conventions have the interruptive power to turn our reflections towards the searing disruptions of colonization, genocide, and institutionally sanctioned cruelty. This is a rare, creative work of cultural scholarship.

- Lorraine York