Deep Water features works by Yen-Chao Lin (Montreal), Fraser McCallum (Toronto), Erin Siddall (Vancouver), Miguel Angel Ríos (New York/Oaxaca), Julie René de Cotret and JuJe Collective (Guelph), and Virginia Lee Montgomery (New York/Houston). Produced over the span of the last decade, these short videos and film works make use of natural elements—water, air, fire, minerals, etc.—to circle around issues such as the exploitation of environmental resources, colonial tendencies encroaching on sacred spaces and rituals, pilgrimages to locales that bear remnant traces of activism and protest, the fraught period that we call modernity, and metaphysical ways of summoning hope for the future. Blending documentary, experimental film, performance documentation, archival research, site visits, and semi-fantastic folk retellings, the works included in Deep Water are linked by a common surreal or dreamlike atmosphere, perhaps suggesting a permeability between the exterior world and psychic topographies.
Deep Water is organized by Laura Demers, and is presented as part of plumbraiser, a fundraiser for the plumb.
To access the plumbraiser virtual screenings, visit plumbraiser.eventive.org.
Shot on location in the traditional Amis territory, The Spirit Keepers of Makuta’ay (2019) travels through villages on the east coast of Taiwan, where nature, colonization and population migration merge to create a unique spiritual landscape. The hand processed super 8 unravels mixed faith expressions from Daoist ritual possession to Presbyterian funeral, from personal prayers to collective resistance, all the while attempting to trace the memories of past Amis sorcerers.
by Yen-Chao Lin
Vertical Frontier (2019) chronicles relationships between settler colonialism, extractive capitalism, and the making of scientific knowledge through early modern geologic surveys completed by the Canadian government. Loosely focused on Arthur P. Coleman (1852–1939) and the Geologic Survey of Canada, Vertical Frontier considers how seeing geologically constituted an epistemological shift in how lands were documented, classified, and instrumentalized. This film focuses on the tools and measuring devices used to legitimize the geologic profession. Measurement is accordingly shown to be rife with slippages and gaps: hammers used for scale in specimen photographs are undermined through homogenization; tools used in metallurgical assay are rendered indecipherable; and landscapes of geologic significance are seen beyond their instrumental value. With its focus on the unusual methods and broad implications of geology within settler colonialism, Vertical Frontier highlights the discipline’s unceremonious origins in order to better understand its ongoing implications in environmental violence.
by Fraser McCallum
Accessed by tunnel from the protest encampment, a chain-link ring once used to detain protesters still stands beside the outermost entryway into the restricted test site. Filmed on the 70th anniversary of the dropping of the first Atomic bomb on Hiroshima, The Pen (2015) is a video work which considers the empty enclosure as an object defining a precise discipline, mimicking the high-security fencing surrounding the entire test site.
by Erin Siddall
Filmed in Oaxaca, Mexico, this dream-like, hallucinatory film features a transparent cube floating in the landscape with a will of its own, as if magically suspended. The eye floats above the leachate, in all directions against glass walls, in the void of a box that is transparent and reflects its exterior without changing its surroundings. Through images shot on a plateau overlooking a slum where the desolation evoked by garbage is sometimes interrupted by a human presence, The Ghost of Modernity (2012) exposes the contamination that ensues from the (colonialist) project of modernization, acknowledging the resulting social and environmental violence. The nomadic displacement between the natural and urban landscape reveals the social contradictions inherent to the modernist project in Latin America. How are we seen? How do we see ourselves? Representation or idealization?
by Miguel Angel Ríos
This short untitled film from 2014 documents a performance in which the artist, Julie René de Cotret, uses her body and a bicycle to drag a flaming tree across an empty intersection in a small town in rural Ontario. Living and practicing on the parcel of land she inhabits, René de Cotret's work often consists of absurd, disruptive gestures that challenge our idealized conception of bucolic living and agricultural landscapes. She highlights the environmental and sensorial turbulence that humans enact upon their natural surroundings in quick, highly theatrical performances.
by Julie René de Cotret
Terrestrial Nautica (2017) documents a performance in which the artists, Julie René de Cotret and Jefferson Campbell-Cooper, drive a modified leisure vehicle (a DIY hybrid combining a snowmobile and a small motorized boat) across the industrial farming fields that constitute their backyard. Often sprayed with chemicals, these monocropping lands form the ad hoc stage for a frenzied, fast-paced, site specific intervention.
by JuJe Collective
Butterfly Birth Bed (2020) is a metaphysical art film about hope. Inspired by 'The Butterfly Effect'—the philosophical theorem that any small change in our environment, even the gentle flapping of a butterfly's wings may manifest big climatic change—the film documents the ethereal emergence of live butterflies over storm imagery contained in a butterfly-scale Shaker bed. Collectively, Butterfly Birth Bed's symbolism and elemental soundscape facilitate a surreal incantation for healing, hope, and recovery. The film is directed, edited, and scored by VLM.
by Virginia Lee Montgomery