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Iris Häussler: He Named Her Amber

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' to be located in The Grange, a 19th century mansion now part of the Gallery. Haussler 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. Subsequently, Archaeological Services Ontario (ASO) found a veritable Pandora's box of items and, since opening in 2008, thousands of visitors have toured the site. Only after the event did the artist and the Gallery reveal to the world that 'He Named Her Amber' was a commissioned work of art and not an historical find.

On this website you will find documentation of the visitor experience of the installation itself. Over time, we will layer in essays, public and press responses, photographs, sketches, links to pertinent websites, and other elements that shed light on Häussler's creative method and the profound significance this project has for the AGO.

Anthropological Services Ontario

In the wake of The Grange discovery, the AGO retained Anthropological Services Ontario (ASO) to investigate.

Visitor Emails

Over the course of this project, Dr. Lee, Amber, Iris Häussler, Dr. David Moos and the AGO received more than 250 e-mails, handwritten letters, gifts, notes and telephone calls from visitors who took part in the installation. A selection of these messages is published here, with the permission of the authors.

The Publication

An ABC Art Books Canada publication. Available on amazon.ca, or visit shopAGO in person.

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