The following is a blog post from my fellow collaborator across the world, Julie Briggs.
Find more of her writing and artworks:
Arts Territory Exchange – Places – Spaces 2019
As a part of an Arts Territory Exchange (ATE), I am creating work along with Catherine Reinhart (www.catherinereinhart.com) of Iowa USA, with whom ATE has paired me. The brief from ATE is to consider place and ideas of remoteness. Artists are invited to interpret these themes in very broad ways.
Through this residency I am thinking about remoteness in two senses. The first is remoteness from my “self” that I have experienced, and how making time for art brings me close to myself, while the minutia of daily “tending” keeps me distant, from my core self. The second is a remoteness I believe we inadvertently create in the way we tend to think about our “place” on planet earth.
Writer Virginia Woolf in a 1929 essay decried the lack of creative spaces experienced by women, arguing that a woman needed “a room of one’s own” in order to enjoy the same privilege that men of her time enjoyed. More recently Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Brigid Schulte, penned an essay arguing that in fact little has changed and that women still struggle to free themselves from the daily tasks of tending to others. She cites a study indicating the length of unbroken free time a woman might experience in a day averages 10 minutes. As I sit here typing, I have a to-do list with items pending: i) call father about ailing mother ii) clean brother-in-law’s unit iii) bring in washing, fold and store iv) grocery shop v) accept quote vi) fill in medical form vii) complete financial form viii) and it goes on. My repeated thought: how long can I spend at my blog? In 2014 Brigid Schulte noted a similar list plus many unanticipated tasks had delayed her production of this very essay.
This is not to say that the many tasks we undertake are not important or valued. Of course we care for our loved people, of course we need to eat, and there is satisfaction to be found here. The issue is the relentlessness and ever-present nature of women’s work, measured against the luxury of the clearly defined dedicated time and space allowed to men who undertake creative lives.
In my writings and visual works for our joint project, both Catherine and I are thinking about the labour involved in creating a place for ourselves and our family, and at the same time about the labour involved in knowing our larger space i.e. mapping geography and topography.
In thinking about the implications of “knowing” our place on the Earth, I consider first “my place”, a regional farming area sometimes considered a remote place, and examine how we might frame this “knowing” in terms of our ecological footprint.
Australian Environmental philosopher Val Plumwood (1939 – 2008) in her 2008 essay Shadow Places and the Politics of Dwelling made the case for a broader view of what we refer to as “my place”. She argued that traditional individualistic ways of thinking about our “place” in which we honour it “…in its singular idealised place consciously identified with self…” is a dematerialised version of place.
I recommend the Arts Territory Exchange program to any artists interested in working remotely with artists from distant spaces. It’s a generous whole-hearted program founded by Gudrun Filipska. Follow them on Instagram @artsterritoryexchange or learn more at www.artsterritoryexhange.com