2015: Excavata

excavata_2016_04_ursula-johnson

2015: Excavata


EXHIBITED AT/AS PART OF:
2015 Writing Topography McCain Biennale curated by Corinna Ghaznavi at Beaverbrook Art Gallery , Fredricton, New Brunswick
MATERIALS:
Pine Lumber, Wood Stain and Varnish, Galvanized Steel Piping and Flanges, Spray Paint, Hardware, Found Object (Seat from a household kitchen chair), Ash Wood Debris from 3 logs that were processed from the Mi’kwite’tmn exhibition
STATEMENT:
The developmental years of a child often involve learning social skills within a community ‘playground’ that are considered integral to their development.

These manufactured spaces have become urban legacies where each community takes pride in the development of the infrastructure that is aimed at encouraging physical coordination, strength, flexibility, fair play and recreation through enjoyment.

The materials used in the construction of the playground have evolved over time, from a ‘junk playground’ in England, which used rubble materials leftover from The Blitz (1940-1941), to space voyage inspired steel constructed apparatuses in the USSR (1970’s-1980’s). And now modern day architecturally designed areas that are developed based upon the consumers needs.

Some playgrounds are created to be outdoors in parks in community regulated areas, some are indoors in various establishment intended for the patrons, and others are now entire theme parks that are regulated and insured where visitors must pay fees to enter in order to access equipment or other varying media technologies to stimulate imaginings and present opportunities to purchase memorabilia to trigger nostalgia from the lived experience of ‘play’.

Tim Gill (an expert in child development in the UK) has written about the “over-protective bias in provision for children, particularly with playgrounds. Instead of a constructed playground, allowing children to play in a natural environment such as an open land or a park is sometimes recommended; children gain a better sense of balance playing on uneven ground, and learn to interpret the complexity and signals of nature more effectively.”

In Mi’kwite’tmn (Do You Remember) (2014), I activate a selection of tools that my family has employed for generations to process and prepare materials for the customary art of ash splint basketry. However, in the activation of these tools, I encounter a problem.

The problem is a generational loss of understanding the processes of which these tools must be engaged in to achieve the desired outcome. Therefore, I enter into ‘play’ with an anticipation of learning necessary skills so that I may entice my peers to join me.

I attempt to process the ash log through steps that I have learned from my grandfather with these tools within the gallery space, all the while engaging visitors in conversations about nostalgia, resource responsibility and consumption. The log however, is never processed to the point where it can be “used”.

The remnants of the ash logs from the last 3 public performances from Mi’kwite’tmn have become the catalyst for Excavata.

Excavata (2015) is an exploration of the human need for consumption.

MORE INFO: 
Beaverbrook Art Gallery website
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Images: Beaverbrook Art Gallery (Roger Smith)
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excavata_2016_04_ursula-johnson

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