Sleepless Nights and Placeless Places

# of sketches made – 2
# of boxes moved to make room in the studio – 6
# of replies to proposals – 0

I have been working on this island project. Trying to connect my own experiences with the theories of our relationship with land and sea. Reading literature and watching movies in which islands are the setting. The same image sticks with me. That of the shipwrecked individual sprawled in the tide. Battered by the ocean but, with one arm outstretched, making claim of the land. It is a combination of Gulliver’s Travels, Robinson Crusoe, Pirates of The Caribbean and the artwork Vexation Island by Rodney Graham.

I woke up before dawn with a feeling that this work is less about islands and more about claiming land. Claiming it from the ocean, from each other, from the past. What gestures make this claim? Desperation, defiance, exhaustion, exhilaration? What is being claimed? Our right to be alive in a time and place? Or our power over others who would also like to assert this claim? Or is it our misguided defiance of our limited time and power on this earth?

Countries around the globe are making claims that the arctic belongs to them. That they put their mark in that place first. What use is it to have put your mark in a place that is rapidly melting? It is a fight to claim land that is not land, to have rights of passage through something that will no longer be what it was and to take whatever resources are laid bare. We repeatedly fight over places and in the process waste what was once desirable.

Perhaps my feeling is influenced by the book I have been reading,The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant, which tells the story of wasted resources, claims on land, destruction of beauty and the people of Haida Gwaii. Perhaps it is the spiders I watched yesterday as they battled over a web. Or maybe it is the images of shipwrecks and ruins that I am always drawn to. I’m not sure but I think I have more work to do.

a modern day shipwreck – all those wasted dreams


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