Anna Tsouhlarakis:
Indigenous Absurdities


About the exhibition

Anna Tsouhlarakis: Indigenous Absurdities is an exhibition of new work by Boulder-based artist, Anna Tsouhlarakis. Centering Indigenous knowledge systems and ways of teaching as starting points, Tsouhlarakis’ work reframes the discourse around the construction of Native American identity. Through video, performance, sculpture, photography, and installation, Tsouhlarakis challenges and expands the boundaries of aesthetic and conceptual expectations for Native artmaking to reclaim and rewrite their definitions.

“As a Native American artist, Anna Tsouhlarakis probes what it means to be a contemporary Indigenous artist working in the US today,” said Leilani Lynch, Associate Curator at MCA Denver. “Often deploying language, minimalist aesthetics and humor to indigenize spaces, she challenges fallacies behind non-Native understanding of Native history, life, and community.”

Whether situated in history or the present day, jokes are rooted in truth. Amusing, illogical, and sometimes ridiculous, they reframe our understanding of the world around us. In Indigenous Absurdities, Anna Tsouhlarakis investigates the layering of truths and histories within comical stories and jokes, and how the anecdotes reflect Indigenous identity. “Indian humor” is a colloquial name for Native American jokes dealing with specific tribes, families, and, occasionally, specific people. Sourcing research from friends, family, and a broad network of Native communities across the US, Tsouhlarakis collects Indigenous jokes and stories and deconstructs them only to reassemble them as abstract drawings, video, and sculptures that highlight newfound complexities and understanding of Native American identity and expression. Indigenous Absurdities features newly commissioned works that are the culmination of Tsouhlarakis’ 2021 Creative Capital Award. The prestigious annual award supports the creation of groundbreaking, innovative projects to a select group of artists. 

Accompanying programming will include an in-gallery talk with the artist on June 27, as well as a comedy show featuring Native comedians at The Holiday Theater on August 24.

Curated by
Leilani Lynch, MCA Denver's Associate Curator

On view from

With support from Creative Capital

Black text that reads, "Creative Captial"
Portrait of artist Anna Tsouhlarakis. She is taking the photograph herself, and is sporting a bandana around her neck. There is artwork behind her.

Anna Tsouhlarakis works in sculpture, installation, video, and performance. Tsouhlarakis graduated from Dartmouth College and then Yale University. She has participated in various art residencies and been part of national and international exhibitions. Tsouhlarakis is Greek and Creek, and an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation.