Native In Tongues

Last year I travelled to Saskatchewan in May for an odd residency. The whole trip was aimed at three days in which I would be in a large hole dug in the ground for six hours a day with the host and organiser of the residency, Linda Duvall. I applied for the residency in order to feel like a completely foreign body in a place, not like my already semi-belonging being in Dublin, where I live. I politicised the hole, asked nosey questions about the land ownership, whether it can be owned, whether the First Nations own it, or its settler owners by contract own it, or maybe it’s the queen. Yes, there was definitely a moment when we referred to this hole dug in the ground as “the queen’s hole”.

The entire time sitting in the hole, talking with Linda about land politics, I was also drawing. I was drawing one specific area of this hole, a lump of earth held together by roots and habit hanging off a dent in the pillar of land in the centre. For a total of eighteen hours I drew twenty one versions of this small section of land from the same angle. Each drawing looked different, included a different amount of detail and framed with a different “zoom”. But it was this mud creature that really ended up being the scope through which I looked at this area afterwards. I named it a few things, because it looked like a few things while I was drawing, a spud, a mudder, but the one that stuck is Sad Ted, since in a few of the drawings the little lump seemed to have a sombre face.

What is the point of this? A year later I know I learned that I need to ask questions about the link between being native and belonging. It made me interested in the idea of “being of” a place versus “being from” a place. The question of native is strange for someone who grew up in Israel, where most people consider themselves native, and is now living in Ireland, where the concept of native was a long time ago similar to that in North America, but is now much more European. It’s good to be native here, it helps your everyday life.

So with this text and the video piece that was created together with it over this year I identify that the root of the pieces I currently work on to be in the Saskatchewan prairies. I have many more questions of land, body, some linked to foreign/native identities, some linked to feminist ideas. Over this year I learned about some great artists in Ireland and Canada, whose work I want to research in depth, so some of this work will be curatorial and written. As I work on developing moving image and performative artwork that is connected to the ideas that came out of the residency in the farm, I felt it was appropriate to tie this loose end with the work I made in Canada, featuring the Sad Ted animation.

Please watch this piece with the sound on.

 

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