Processes of Remediation: art, relationships, nature
This website shares the research and process of white settler Canadian artist Alana Bartol as she develops a new body of work through an online residency project with University of Lethbridge Art Gallery. The resulting artworks will be presented in a solo exhibition in January 2021 at University of Lethbridge Art Gallery curated by Josephine Mills.
How is remediation understood in Alberta in this moment of ecological crisis and within the context of climate justice? How are colonial-capitalist perspectives that support exploitation and extractivism in Alberta countered? What are the varied ways in which anti-colonial learning happens and how can it be supported or enacted through art-making? How is difference understood and negotiated in this work?
Processes of Remediation takes the concept of environmental remediation as a starting point to explore what it means to enact environmental care and repair in the province colonially named Alberta. Remediation can be understood as remedying something, usually in the context of environmental repair to damaged or contaminated land. When we consider environmental remediation in the context of wellbeing for both the human and more-than-human worlds, as well as socio-economic, cultural, and political contexts in what is colonially named canada, the concept of remediation can become more complex and difficult to undertake. An examination of what remediation means and what it might look like must look at the prevailing colonial capitalist perspectives that support exploitation and extractivism – organized around white settler colonialism, racism, white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, and capitalism – intertwined with environmental degradation, Indigenous dispossession, and ongoing settler colonial violence.
Workshop participants learn about dowsing and digging with artist Alana Bartol and Head Horticulturalist Kara Matthews at the Coutts Centre for Western Canadian Heritage. Photos: blkarts.ca.
Bartol's research involves connecting with geographers and hydrologists who study climate change, a horticulturalist who studied environmental remediation and maintains a herbarium at the Coutts Centre for Western Canadian Heritage (a botanical garden and working farm near Nanton that the University of Lethbridge owns), and Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) Elders from Kainai who work with the uLethbridge Art Gallery. The residency has included the artist spending time in Blairmore in the Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, part of which was at the Gushul Residency, as she considers the history of coal mining in the region and the recent changes to policy in Alberta that make it easier to develop open-pit coal mines.
About the artist
Alana Bartol comes from a long line of water witches. Her site-responsive works explore divination as a way of understanding across places, species, and bodies. Through collaborative and individual works, she creates relationships between the personal sphere and the landscape, particular to this time of ecological crisis.
A multidisciplinary artist with a B.F.A. from the University of Windsor and an M.F.A. from Detroit’s Wayne State University, she has been a visitor to Mohkinstsis (Calgary), Alberta for 5 years. In 2019, she was longlisted for the Sobey Art Award for Prairies and North. Bartol’s work has been presented in exhibitions and festivals internationally. She is a sessional instructor at Alberta University of the Arts. Photo: Karin McGinn.
Thank you to Canada Council for the Arts, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and Calgary Arts Development for their support for this work.