let’s talk the land

Writing Reflections and Changes of Course…

I spent a week in Detroit visiting different community gardens in the city.  I acted as a guide and community liaison for a photographer who is working on a photo-essay portraiture project on the city’s urban agriculture movement.  The focus of the photographer’s work was on individuals – the portraits being a poignant and evocative way visually documenting farm-work in the city.  From this experience I would like to focus on individual voices and experiences – making “audio” portraits of individuals engaged in agriculture in Michigan.  My original proposal was to look at the growth of  urban agriculture in relation to the decline in rural farming.  I would still like to use this as a base for this project but would like to explore it through people’s experience rather than through overarching theory.

My project will start in Detroit located on the state’s eastern edge and move west – a natural progression from highly industrial and urban areas to rural communities.  The theme will be farming and land work, be it vegetable gardening, fruit growing, community gardens, commercial farming, private gardens or livestock.

I will be exploring and investigating the following questions…

How has this place changed?
How has working on the land changed for you?
How do you see yourself in relation to the land and the changes it is going through?

Travel and the journey from farm to farm will be an additional integral element of my work and the gathering of material.
I will document the journey to the location through maps and photographs. I will be following the Inter State Highway System I94 as the travel-corridor west as well as other older cross-state roads and highways, branching off of them to get to locations en route.

Logistics and resources play a significant role in this project and will influence the overall aesthetic of the work.
I will be recording all the stories on tape recorders and perhaps simultaneously on a digital recorder. I haven’t decided yet if I will use the raw taped material as a final product or edit the digital material and transfer it to analogue tapes in the end.  My hope is to have a collection of tapes and photographs that map geographically the stories and people to their locations. (Does this make sense? It seems a bit redundant…) I have yet to know the outcome of this or to know exactly what I will do or how I will present the final recorded product.

I would like to incorporate my travel and my automobile in the work as a “location” for performance – for example as the medium with which the tapes could be heard by an audience or as a mobile library and archive of the stories. How and where this “performance” will happen is still up in the air for me. I would like to allow the material gathered to become the guide for shaping the outcome of the work – for example finding reoccurring themes and narratives – which then could be structured into a combined audio work.

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Summary                                                                                                                                                                                                                Context – Enquiry – Project

The geographical location of my CEP is in lower Michigan, the context lies in farming and agricultural communities both in rural and urban areas.

My enquiry is into how people relate to CHANGE in the landscape and working on the land.

I will be visiting people on farms and gardens in Michigan. I will ask people to tell me stories about change.
“Can you tell me a story about how this place has changed or how land work has changed for you?”
I will record these stories as well as document the meeting. Final outcome is yet unknown.

It’s time to hit the road.

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