(re)member of water

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La Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario (GNO), Sudbury, Ontario

Atikameksheng Anishnawbek territory

2015

 

In Sudbury, we experienced the Junction creek, zig-zagging across the city, and flowing beneath the gallery. Here, textiles and video evoked the waterway made invisible by urban planning.

A video was made of our exploration of Junction creek - walking in the water, watching the environment, the walls that were constructed to contain and control the creek, the foreboding depth and darkness of the concrete culvert entrance.

Multiple soundscapes of the creek’s voice were played through a series of headphone hung by branches on the gallery wall.

A book that compiling our research of the Junction creek watershed - every page was hand printed and drawn - was placed on a handmade cherry and maple desk.

Based in our interest in painting, yet desire to leave acrylic paints behind (not only energy-intensive to produce, water-based acrylics contaminate watersheds with synthetic biocides, emulsifiers and pigments), we collected watershed plants to experience the local colour palette. At night, a textile dyed with black walnut pigment collected over an urban buried waterway, was illuminated by solar energy gathered in house.

 

Contemplations

vylyvaty visk: the pouring forth of fear (Published in the Journal of Comparative Media Arts)

In the winter of 2013, I was gifted the book, Baba’s Kitchen Medicines, where I learned about the wax ceremony, a form of Ukrainian spiritual healing. I asked my relatives if they had ever encountered this modality, and discovered that one of my cousins had been remedied of nightmares through ‘wax pouring.’ As I looked into this practice further, I encountered the M.A. thesis of Rena Hanchuk, The Word and Wax.

Hanchuk describes how wax pouring was an European Indigenous technology that survived through syncretism. While some wax pourers might have been referred to as ‘witches’, they were accepted among early pioneers due to their pious affiliations. Today, they continue to practice in Alberta. Some wax pourers will donate a substantial amount of their earnings to the church. Through a close reading of their incantations and rituals, Hanchuk has found explicit Christian elements, along side pre-Christian relationships. Hanchuk elaborates that although the worldviews are fused, the prayer “wields power and even medicinal properties” that are experienced by the client.