The Invisible Inside the Visible was a personal quest turned art project to locate physical evidence of a century-old racetrack on the Cape John peninsula in the village of River John, Nova Scotia.
The journey to find the racetrack was marked by its double invisibility. Not only was it remembered without specificity in regard to location, it was also invisible to the observing eye because it was embedded into the landscape. The puzzling ordering of time and place through language and landscape prompted me to conduct research into cultural geography and phenomenological theory as tools for examining the relationship of people to place and the evolution of the description and use of landscape.
I approached the research for the project by drawing on my own practice, local sources, and the work of humanist cultural geographers. I appreciated the humanist conception of imagination as part of the creation of geography. J. B. Jackson, Stephen Daniels, and Denis Cosgrove were important in elucidating the material production within coded ideologies of geography and landscape. Barbara Bender provided an important link to the economic, lived, and linguistic experience of place. Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s conception of the embodied memory, in particular the idea that the sensory and sentient beings provide two halves to an experience and that a chiasm exists between them, helped to inform the idea that the body and the land exist as two halves of a form that traverses something felt (language) in order to come into existence. Through these influences and my own experience making the work, I proposed the body and the land as two parts enfolding the invisible. This invisible is the infinitely variable imagined made tangible through multiples of language.
This exposition is a reflection on the nature of landscape as a marker of cultural geography and on my ability, as an artist, to pull the past forward, through performance. I see the performative gesture as a physical articulation akin to a vibration; it disrupts the stability of the narrative. This project adds to the discourse investigating maps, memory, rural community, oral history, depictions of landscape, performance as tool, and the potential for dialectical articulations of place and history.