He Named Her Amber spans the space between fiction and nonfiction and a spatial construct of reality and the unreal. Readers have described their experience of her work as "walking through a novel in three dimensions."
In 2007 Iris Häussler was invited to create a work for the inauguration of the newly transformed Art Gallery of Ontario. She proposed an elaborate in situ piece entitled He Named Her Amber located in The Grange, a 19th century mansion now part of the AGO. Häussler presented a complex narrative around a young Irish woman who had worked as a maid at the Grange. Mysteriously bequeathed papers revealed that Mary O'Shea had over the years hidden objects and documents in and around the house. Archaeological Services Ontario (ASO) found a veritable Pandora's box of items and, since its opening in 2008, thousands of visitors have toured the site. Only after the event did the artist and the AGO reveal to the world that He Named Her Amber was a commissioned work of art and not an historical find.
This illustrated publication documents a daring public artwork with essays from the artist and curator, as well as comments in response to the work from critics and visitors showcasing the many sharply divided views. By making art based upon direct experience rather than theoretical discourse, and by questioning the traditional authority of the museum, Häussler’s work aims to redefine and reignite the relationship between art, artist and spectator.
About the author
Iris Häussler is known for her site-specific installations in which she constructs fictitious personae in real environments. Locations have included rented apartments, hotel rooms, and a residential home. Born in Germany and trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Häussler’s work has been shown at galleries and museums throughout the world. She now lives and works in Toronto.