Video sample of lager dual channel projection.
Medium: Dual Channel Video / Year: 2018
In the video piece "Regenerative Cutting" (0:09:00) a performer attempts to resurrect the painful memories submerged under the Quabbin Reservoir's Watershed, the source of Boston's drinking water. The performer is masked, a one-eyed deer being. Through their movement, it navigates the multiple layers of colonized spaces. The deer reencounters the boundaries that cut into its own presence: memory and history. Indeed, its environment has been carefully pruned by human beings, who bend the natural world to their own needs.
The Quabbin Reservoir Watershed was first settled by pioneer towns, which violently displaced indigenous nations and radically transformed the environment. These towns were themselves later displaced by the economic/colonial power of Boston. Boston had polluted its own drinking water sources and found that it was more profitable to turn west to quench its thirst. The Swift River Valley was flooded, and the surrounding hills were "turned back to nature" to protect the newly built watershed.
The Quabbin’s reservoir and watershed are currently managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). They control the wilderness surrounding the Quabbin Reservoir, while carefully cultivating the forest in the name of Boston's need for "clean and pristine" drinking water. Every year, the DCR practices controlled-forestry, cutting down large swaths of trees to promote the watershed’s health and "forest regeneration." In the name of this regenerative forestry practice, the DCR also organizes controlled hunting to manage the deer population.
In the performative and visual exploration of this colonized "natural kingdom,” the specters of an inconvenient past resurface. They haunt the cleared woods, walk over the abandoned walls of the first colonists. They watch, listen, search for what is no longer remembered. Through the performers’ actions, the disremembered histories stare back at the forgetful “contemporary” colonist.
The deer stares at the viewer, who is safe behind the screen. It calls on the viewer to remember and recognize the conquered land underneath their feet. Indeed, the deer knows that it is being watched, the viewer their hunter. As a ghostly presence and phantom memory, the deer also haunts all of us. In this way it becomes the specter of a collapsing planet, which caves under our consumerist/commodity thirsty addiction.