Walking, driving, digging, listening, recording, folding, painting, all-night-headlamp-drawing and experimenting within the context of the land, community, ecology, and art. These artists worked on a diverse range of projects taking them across the Ucross 20,000 acre cattle ranch, and out-into local towns, historic sites, and mining operations.
|Land Arts crew at Ucross - photo credit Joseph Mougel|
Orion: stalking prairie plants
July 20, 2013
White tail bark
|Terrestrial/Celestial Navigations - Bill Gilbert|
|Joseph Mougel photographing grass seeds|
|Grass Seeds - Joseph Mougel|
From ranges and fields to pastures and lawns, the evolution of grasses has been tied to that of human civilization, with a few seeds selected for cultivation into cereal grains, others as pastoral grasses, some for lawns, and many declared weeds. It is fascinating that early humans, some 9000 years ago, could look upon a plant, see the potential of a grain, and begin to take steps toward a partnership of agriculture that would ultimately tie together both humans’ and plants’ cultural paths. These photographs of seeds and husks capture the diversity within the varieties of uncultivated grasses that grow on the pasture ranges of Wyoming. Reminiscent of early photographs of snowflakes, the images in the series portray not only the diversity of grass, but also the variation within a grass genus or even a single plant. In the photographs of the seeds and husks, subtle images emerge of boat-like shapes, stars, and intricate lines that evoke tales of the passage of time, myth-making, and the intersection of micro and macro narratives.
|detail - Cynthia Brinich-Langlois|
The series of eight cliché verre prints employs a toned cyanotype printing process, with each composition completed during and representing a three-hour period of the day, much like traditional prayer hours. The eight prints form a circular panorama viewed from a single location within a tipi ring atop a hill in Ucross, Wyoming, with the various times of day radiating from that point like a clock face or compass rose. The changing conditions of illumination throughout the day and night influence the level of detail and contrast that I can render on the surface of the plates, and as the darkness obscures the landscape from view, the compositions are drawn more from memory and imagination than direct observation.
As each three-hour period ends, I set aside the plate and work instead on the next in sequence. I am curious about how the rhythms of day and night influence perception, technique, and concentration, and how these traces of the creation of the images tie that print not only to a place, but also to a time.
|SOIL - in process|
As a flat representation, soils have been formulated into what we call landscape, the literal ground of an aestheticized and revered static order to be gazed upon and used to declare dominance of hand over time. These dirts are the bodies below, too radical and risqué to be exposed.
Soils are the grounds under our feet and across the planar horizon of form and material. They are the earth shifting scales from macro to micro as particle size and biomass flow through energy exchanges and build ecologies of relationships.
As an ongoing research project I have been seeking soils for answers to the question of how we connect to place as a meshwork. How we experience dirt beyond the mundane. How soils cultivate heterogeneity as unique aspects toward production processes: those of human, geology, and biology.
At Ucross, this project was implemented through a sampling methodology that took me for a 20-mile walk. On foot and upon the soil I collected samples, surveyed plant life, recorded audio-ecologies, and used time-based media to document the soil as a dynamic body. I then interviewed several local residents about the soil that is their place of home, work, and dreams.
|Eclipse - Cedra Wood|
While at Ucross I'm operating in three places at once. Part of me is in the Arctic, and my time in the beautiful residency-provided studio space is spent largely in working on a large piece about Spitsbergen. Another part of me is recording impressions of my previous weeks' travel in Alberta and Montana, internalizing the landlocked glaciers and icefields. And, fortunately, a big piece of me is actually here, wandering around Wyoming itself, doing plein-air studies and sketches and generating performance ideas. Throughout it all thinking about the physical forces that shaped each of these places--so different and yet so similar--and the human elements that play such a large role in how those shapes are changing.
|Study - Erika Osborne|
I spent my time at Ucross focusing on the duality between the beauty of the region and the relentlessness with which we have fought, and continue to fight, for its resources - whether it be buffalo or natural gas.
|I'mmigration - Yoshi Hayashi|
People and animals migrate for many different reasons dictated by the situation: for food, for shelter, for water, for better weather, for jobs, for their dreams, for comfort of loved ones, or simply to get away from danger. While other animals mainly fall in one of these categories, humans are the only species to travel for leisure. Neither to forage nor hunt, we seek to quell our wanderlust. In Australia the aborigines call it a “Walk about”. Whatever the “walking about” is about, there is a relationship between our intentions and the place.
The place that I stand today, cradled the footprints of the buffalo and the Native Americans who hunted them. The “Ciboleros”, Mexican buffalo hunters, during the 1820’s, also worked the Wyoming plains trading with the natives. Today the buffalo are replaced by fields of alfalfa, cattle, and drilling rigs. There are no more migrations of these beasts that roamed freely, not recognizing borders of states or property lines. The faint herds are relegated to personal stocks or on protected parks and lands. Yet on this land, people have migrated thousands of miles disregarding borders, escaping dangers, and quietly living camouflaged in the landscape. The migrant workers have come to work the land, to grow food and raise cattle, and send back money to their families in their hometowns.
In my own walk about, I want to be naïve of the issues and the hardships that sculpt the land. I want to see the romantic visions of buffaloes roaming freely and Native Americans looking like “proper tobacco store Indians”, to see cowboys with six guns and chaps, spitting into bronze containers. I want to close my eyes and not see the faces of innocent girls like Brisenia Flores(whose image appears on each buffalo), who was murdered by Minute Men in her home in Arizona; her family mistaken for being illegal, and robbed and shot and left to die in her mother’s arms. The collateral lives lost as a consequence of inflammatory rhetoric that permeates our country.
I am torn with the guilt of wanting to see my ideal images verses the complex difficulties that surround a place. The work I’mmigration is therefore a response to the conflicting feelings I have of being a tourist in Buffalo, Wyoming. It combines the folded paper (origami) traditions of my immigrant Japanese background, with the disappearance of the migratory buffalo. These beasts carry with them the burdens of the people living and working on the land. The buffalo are installed in small towns with abandoned storefronts, the youth migrating to large cities for better opportunities. They are installed on the plains with the romantic intent to honor the lives of the animals and the people that worked and are still harvesting the land. The Japanese fold origami cranes in hopes that a loved one will recover from illness or ward off bad luck. My gesture of folding the buffalo touch upon these hope for the place, though I know that at the end of the day, they are only naïve paper dreams of a tourist.