press release

The Legacy of Joseph Wagenbach is a site-specific installation by Iris Häussler, curated by Rhonda Corvese. A secluded house in a downtown Toronto residential neighbourhood is the setting of a fictitious artist's sculptural legacy. Visitors are guided through the house by an archivist. In this crossover between art, literature and theatre, Häussler has transformed her psychological narrative into an immersive reality. Memories of the early 20th century, set in the unique context of immigration and identity in Toronto, are created through an unsettlingly detailed reconstruction of the art and artefacts of "Joseph Wagenbach's" life.

Joseph Wagenbach, was born in Germany in 1929, left his home in 1946 and immigrated to Canada, via Paris, in 1962. Making a modest living in unrelated jobs, he created his art in absolute privacy, gradually transforming his physical environment into a pandemonium of sculpture. His legacy was discovered at the age of 77 when he was transferred to a nursing home after suffering a stroke. The Municipal Archives are currently archiving and assessing the site and the work.

Iris Häussler: The Legacy is an accompanying exhibition at the Goethe-Institut Toronto that documents the conceptual process in the creation of "The Legacy of Joseph Wagenbach" and related work.

Iris Häussler studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Germany and has shown widely throughout Europe. Grants received include the Karl-Hofer Prize, Berlin and a Kunstfonds Fellowship. Iris Häussler emigrated to Canada in 2001. The Legacy of Joseph Wagenbach is her largest and most complex installation in a succession of off-site narratives over the last eighteen years. It marks her first major show in North America.

The project has been realized with funding from the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.


Iris Häussler
The Legacy of Joseph Wagenbach
Kurator: Rhonda Corvese