The land describes itself–
over and over again, never repeating, never stuttering, never faltering in the language it uses to convey meaning and meaninglessness. Our interpretation of that voice and that presence is contingent on our thoughts and from where our meaning draws meanings. How do we hear and see something so grounded in our own sense of history? Usually by defining ourselves in place of these spaces.
The photos, are photos of photos from landscapes around the Pacific Northwest, the western Southwest, and the Great Lakes. Homelands of me and many different peoples, containing histories of many more. Projected 35mm transfers on transparencies illuminated by an Eiko overhead projector and photographed once more via digital camera. Their construction was guided by a desire to remove the intelligibility of a topography and the weighted memory of that production. Not the memory entirely, I’ve got nothing against nostalgia, but to create remembrance without longing or desire. An accretive scene so far removed from the place that was photographed, where the texts etched into the image are as hypothetical as they are hesitantly descriptive.
The two channel video, Cloudless Blue Egress of Summer, operates in similar functions, in a place built upon more forgotten, yet reverent, histories. Fort Marion, also known as Castillo de San Marcos, has a long and complex past. Built in 1672 and located in St. Augustine, Florida, it served as a prison during the Seminole Wars in the 1830's, and a prison at the end of the Indian Wars in the late 1880's. It was where Captain Richard Pratt developed a plan of forced assimilation through education that spread across the United States to boarding schools – built with the philosophy "that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man."
Each section of the video tells a small part of this history, from Seminole Chieftain Coacoochee's account of his escape from the fort, to ledger drawings made by the prisoners from the plains given pen and paper and told to draw what they see and what they remember. Each section traces the persistence of presence and memory experienced through confinement and incarceration, through small samplings of space and hope. Where the ocean is a beginning of a story that is incomplete, whose end is lingering on a surface that is innately unstable and effortlessly resolute.
I’ve often had a difficult time in understanding my relationship to landscapes. I could never pinpoint why. These moving and static images attempt to stumble through that difficulty and uncertainty, with a shape given form by this poem from Franklin KR Cline, from his book–
this dangerous culture
mercury it seems is always
it’s all getting jumbled
meanwhile i’m telling someone
i don’t remember
if they asked or not
about pastoral poetry it describes the land without calling it stolen
why write poems about the land
it describes itself