Imagine speaking with the landscape is a curatorial project that questions how one connects with their landscape and how this connection, whether positive or negative, informs how the landscape holds itself within various contexts. Within this curatorial question it is important to define what a landscape is, what qualities the land holds,what kind of connection is being created and between whom. Although that appears to be a lot to define, the questions are broad enough to evoke a multitude of situations and commentary to be explored.
The social issue that is being addressed is the treatment of the land. Whether or not it is positive or negative treatment, it make a difference on how the land holds itself. The theme, that of the importance of honouring the land, can be expressed in many different terms. These terms include:
Spirituality; speaking, visiting, the giving of gifts,
Living; how one takes part in cutting down their global footprint,
And Generational, how our present day choices affect future generations and their well being.
An example of current debate centering the land resides within the standing rock pipeline and what this means in a very economical way. There is importance in taking care of the land when taking care of the people. Those protesting the pipeline are interesting in honouring and taking care of their earth and water because they know that this is what they need in order to survive. The social issues around Standing Rock go beyond honouring the earth, but for the sake of the project, the focus will be on the aspects of the land.
In a curatorial sense the theme of land has the ability to evoke many different conversations, questions and narratives. Some ways in which the theme could be unpacked include the questioning of ‘What is a landscape?’ This could be urban, rural, and overall dependant on the individual. Land and resources could take the shape of knowledge being offered or could take on a material form such as forging plants or oil extraction. What is a respectful way to source from the land, and at what point is it exploitation? In my art practice I believe in the land having it’s own spirit and this helps me connect with it, but this is not true for everyone. In which way do people connect with the land, if they do ,and what importance does this connection hold for both person and nature? This could hold influence in a personal, community or cultural way, and within the world at large.
An example of an artist exploring this themes is Rebecca Belmore with her piece Ayum-ee-aawach Oomama-mowan: Speaking to Their Mother where she responded to the 1990 Oka Crisis. In short, Oka was a protest on Mohawk land to maintain their territory. Belmore’s work was as a response in which she created an object that could be used to speak to the land in order to find aboriginal voice. It is a site specific work that was transported through many aboriginal communities both urban and rural. With this work the land is being addressed directly which gives embodiment to the place, and highlights the position of knowledge being held beyond humans.
The reason why I would like to investigate the connection to land is because I agree with the characteristics of the work Speaking to Their Mothers. I once held a conversation with an elder named Gerry Ambers where I spoke to her about a camping trip I took to Port Renfrew, a beautiful place on Vancouver Island with ocean and forest. As she is from this area she spoke to me about the importance of speaking to the forest in that region. She said that the forest needed acknowledgment and she could feel the appreciation from the spirit of the land when she did so. This has been important to me in terms of understanding where I am in my connection to landscape. I wonder how much acknowledgment the prairie landscape receives, and hope that it is in good spirits. What I am trying to understand is how this landscape is operating and what my connection to this place is. I feel that the land works in tandem with human connection, therefore I want to understand better how I connect to place, and how others connect to this idea of speaking with the land. I am curious as to how these acts change in different regions and with different people. Thought this process I want to better experience land, connection, and understanding within various contexts.