Indian Candy

Dana Claxton

Dana Claxton, of Lakota (Sioux) descent, investigates the historical and continuing impact of colonialism on Aboriginal cultures in North America. Through her work, she questions notions of truth and identity by deconstructing the myths and exposing the realities and experiences of First Nations peoples. Claxton interrogates the presentation of Indigenous iconography through the digital archive in Indian Candy.

Working from found images of the “Wild West” sourced online, the artist focuses on those connected to Sitting Bull, the iconic tribal leader who led a resistance against government policies in the United States. As a descendant of Sitting Bull’s band who came to Canada, Claxton simultaneously mines her own personal family history and the legacy of racism. Her diverse range of images present aspects of Indigeneity in a new light; from the buffalo, which represents spirituality for Lakota people and was a main source of sustenance until their near annihilation, to signed souvenir cards from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. As a whole, Indian Candy uncovers truths and performs as a provisional archive of Aboriginal imagery seen through the lens of colonialism.

Claxton has radically altered these source materials—sometimes by adding vibrant text or shifting the colouration to highly saturated hues of pink, turquoise, and purple—enlarging the images to a scale that exaggerates the pixelization. Such transformations serve to draw these historic images into the present, allowing them to be examined with fresh eyes. Realized as a series of billboards in Toronto and six cities across Canada, the authenticity of these lush and seductive images gives way to alignments with advertising and commodification, highlighting how Indigenous iconography has been consumed by popular culture.

Supported by Pattison Outdoor Advertising and Nikon Canada.  A part of PATTISON's ongoing Art in Transit programme  

Toronto Locations

Dundas St W and Ossington Ave, Northwest corner Dundas St W and Rusholme Rd, North side Lansdown Ave at Dundas St W, Northeast corner

Across Canada Locations

Calgary 9 Ave SE at 10, 11 & 13 St SE 4 images, 10 x 20 ft

Dartmouth North St at Alderney Dr 2 images, 10 x 20 ft

Montreal Rue Frontenac at Rue Marie-Anne E & Rue Rachel E 3 images, 10 x 20 ft

Saskatoon Pacific Ave at 22nd St E & 23rd St E 3 images, 10 x 20 ft

Vancouver Howe St at Drake St & Nelson St 3 images, 10 x 20 ft

Winnipeg Isabel St at William Ave 2 images, 10 x 20 ft 2 images, 12 x 16 ft

Curated by Bonnie Rubenstein