Preliminary notes towards an investigation of dammed landscapes.
Part of an intermedia installation concept for the 'Submerged (Drowned Lands)' project.
In September 2012, in a landmark case, a court in New Zealand conferred legal personhood on the entire Whanganui River system. The government minister who negotiated the settlement with the indigenous iwi said the Whanganui will be recognized as a person when it comes to the law. The iwi have specific responsibilities over the river and watershed, and this relationship has been integrated into the new treaty.
In 2001, and again in 2003, I visited the valley of the Guadiana River in Portugal - before and after it was flooded by the huge and controversial Alqueva dam project. At the time my main focus was the impact on the unique ecology of the cork-oak forests, which includes the endangered Iberian Lynx. A million trees were felled in the formation of the reservoir. In 2011, as artist-in-residence at the Grand Canyon, I again found myself in a close encounter with a dammed (or damned) landscape - the Colorado River. The waters of this river no longer reach the delta region in Mexico. Also, between Glen Canyon Dam and Hoover Dam, the river’s ecosystem is now severely depleted.
'No Concept' is an assemblage of fragments, on the way to becoming a more fully-formed project which will explore relationships and cultural responses to these - and other - drowned landscapes. It is a geopoetic investigation, delving into the shadows and undercurrents.
Creative research/residency supported by the Arts Council England and the US National Parks Service.
Special thanks to Rene Westbrook at the Grand Canyon.