Several years ago, past resident Amanda Beech introduced me to Jinny Yu, an artist living between Ottawa and Berlin who has done several projects looking at the legacy of colonialism through the lens of Canada. Jinny does deep research into the history of land, land transfers and related politics and has created abstract paintings on glass that form part of her thought provoking installations. This series of work is titled Perpetual Guest, an iteration of which was exhibited at the Phi Foundation for Contemporary Art in Montreal.
Jinny proposed coming to Joshua Tree to research the settlement of the area by non-indigenous peoples and the creation of the National Park. As we are interested in artists telling the less heard stories of the area, we were enthusiastic to have Jinny here. Jinny was able to secure a Canada Arts Council grant for the project and we were all set. Then the border closed.
After an almost two year delay, Jinny came to Joshua Tree in January, 2022. She digested a lot of information online and through books. She was also to connect with Sara Bliss of the Twentynine Palm Band of Mission Indians and also traveled to the Morongo Reservation where she made some contacts and was able to follow up while here.
What emerged was that Jinny was less involved in the idea of documenting the past and more interested in presenting ideas for how and Indigenous and non-Inidgenous peoples might live side by side in some form of balance. Settlers in the Basin are unlikely to leave and return the land to Indigenous people so how do we find some form of equitable being?
Before leaving, Jinny gave an artist talk that reviewed her past work and introduced these questions. A lively discussion ensued. You can see the talk here. We are very grateful to Jinny for bringing her perspective to the region and look forward to her return to create a locally inspired installation that reflects the themes she is exploring.