In Grand Theft Terra Firma, artists David Campion and Sandra Shields present a strategy guide to an imaginary video game. Combining installation, text, and photography, the artists reframe the settlement of British Columbia as a complex heist masterminded by criminals in London and played out on the ground by a gang of greedy thieves. Central to the exhibition are large-scale, fictionalized portraits that describe the colonial “players” in the heist. Complex photographic vignettes, achieved in collaboration with Stó:lō community members and actors of settler heritage, mimic “screenshots” that recreate key moments in local history.
The project pushes the national conversation around reconciliation by using satire and humour as entry points into difficult knowledge. Blending fictional characters with elements drawn from historical record, the artists create an ambiguous space where audiences are asked to consider their relationship to destructive colonial practices.