Land As A Starting Idea

Dear Elizabeth,
I appreciate your sense of place and your deep respect for the land that surrounds you. I share your sentiment of being more rooted to the land than to a sense of belonging to a social class. The work I do becomes an immersion into the complex and distinctive reality of a specific geographical region, that is intimately connected to my own personal relation.

I left my home territory of Outaouais, Québec when I was 19, only to come back for small periods of time. I love that region and feel a physical reaction every time I visit. After spending five years in Winnipeg, I had the opportunity to do a residency at OBORO Gallery in Montréal which triggered a need to explore my connection to Outaouais. To a certain extent, art is the way I re-establish the bonds that unite me to the universe. I explore, ask questions, and research. As an artist you can’t walk away from a process ; even if the project you are working on is not totally tangible.
During the five week residency in December 2010, I created Amik(waa), a sculptural audio and video installation investigating the connections between the scientific knowledge of my Algonquin ancestry—the Beaver Clan—and the natural world. In doing so, a geometric structure that, much like the ceremonial lodge from which I draw inspiration, is conceived to blur the lines between the past, the present and the future. Taking on the traditional shape of an eight-cornered star, this sculptural audio-visual installation opens a platform for exploration, across generations and cultures, through the physical and the metaphysical worlds. The project was motivated by my interest to understand the social, political and spiritual connections my family from Kitigan Zibi, QC, entertains with the beaver. The word Algonquin translates as “tree eaters” and the Algonquin people were very active in the beaver pelts trade. The trade caused the close disappearance of the beaver, perturbing the entire social, geographical and political landscape for my people. Cultural exchanges through the trading post would eventually see the disappearance of the shaking tent ceremony, as well as the roles established for each family clan. I was never part of the beaver trade, but my great great-grandmother, as well as my great-grandfather were very active in it. They lived every consequences of it, and family lineage became my motivation in exploring Amik(waa), honoring my contemporary point of view. I focus on the evolution of generations where technological transfer enables me to bring the distance and filters necessary to understand the cultural, spiritual, social and political context between the beaver and my ancestors’ behaviors.

With our urban environments, we see more and more mixes of artistic disciplines and the constant expansion of possibilities with media arts. Amik(waa) is not yet completed in my mind, and I am constantly searching ways to bring it all together. It will have its premiere at the Plug In Institute of Contemporary Arts, through Video Pool in September 2013. I am constantly using modern materials to transfer a way of thinking and believe that each single project I undertake could not have existed in any other medium than in the medium in which they were made.

I look forward to learning more about your work and your own creative process. I hope this post resonates to some of your own reflections.
Caroline

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Consultation du milieu des arts interdisciplinaires sur les besoins en création, diffusion, résidences, documentation et formation ainsi que sur la vision d’un lieu identitaire destiné aux pratiques interdisciplinaires (PDF)

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