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|alluvion statement essay stories 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 participants places catalogue Exhibitions: Two Rivers NAG CRAG|
|A few years ago, I had a dream about being on a beach and finding strangely shaped pieces of shell. They felt as if they held mystery – or history – they imbued the shore with a spirit I was given a chance to see. They were human symbols completely akin to the land they were in, a human presence that was embedded, palpable and discreet.
The idea intrigued me. Shaped pieces of shell, while obviously human-made, would be subtle, wouldn't last, and wouldn't harm the environment. When found, they'd be experienced on many levels, and appreciated in many ways – from a child's simple discovery to an analysis of our culture. The act of putting the shells into the landscape was full of potential, as it directly impinged on an individual's understanding of their relationship to the land. People would question or embrace the idea, and think about what it means to insert their human mark on the landscape – or whether such an act, had meaning anymore. The multiple ways that this act could be interpreted fascinated me – revealing, as it would, an individual's construction of reality.
Working with a button factory, I was able to have thousands of shell pieces cut and engraved out of clamshell (common clams that were already being harvested for food). Placing a handful of these shell pieces in 140 envelopes, along with a return postcard (with questions on it) and a request to place the shells on a beach, I then gave these packages away. They went to artists, to acquaintances, to strangers, to friends of friends, to names passed along to me, to unknown relations. People shared them and handed them along. The shells travelled around the globe, but most settled on beaches in BC.
The Alluvion project has gone beyond my hopes. It has become community art, mail art, interactive, public and environmental art; insertion, installation and performance art. It doesn’t matter what it’s named, and in fact, the pluralism of it, the way it can’t be exactly defined, excites me. The simple act of placement has become a way to examine the acts of marking and erasure, throwing away or letting go, ritual and relationship, loss and regaining, giving, taking and receiving. Participants have been flippant, playful, earnest, thoughtful and funny. They have turned the project on its head, enjoyed it, debated it, used it, kept it, or taken it to extremes, but most of all, they have joined in.
Diana Lynn Thompson