Thursday, 13 February 2014
Friday, 7 February 2014
A couple of days ago, as the sun set I went for a ski on Pike Lake and I had a realization: Mummu probably skied here before too...or something near to it. I don't even know if she skied, but really the realization was that my Mummu grew up exploring the same lake I have. In my lifetime I always thought of the homestead as Mummu's camp, but really it was her parent's place, it was where she grew up. My Granny was born there. And then I began think about those intricacies that are involved in an art project that in the moment of creation, you can perhaps feel, but you don't realize until years later.
For my graduating exhibition at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, I had created a "Self Portrait as a Sauna Stove" which included a film of "The Wash". It was something I was labouring over in my head, writing words after words...creating a script..when suddenly one day I was like "What am I doing?!" I don't write scripts. I put it all down, and I knew how to begin the project, so I asked my Dad "Hey, can you drag that sauna stove to the middle of the lake for me before you go to work today?" So here I wake up one Feb. morning (near to my birthday) to the sound of the backhoe "beep-beep-beep" as he drags the new, unused stove onto the ice. He even left me a small pile of kindling. My niece was young (I think two) and watched me curiously from the window as I used a sleigh to bring buckets of water from my parents house to fill up the stove. After the water was warm, I realized what I was really out there doing -- I needed to bathe!
With no walls surrounding me, the neighbours dogs barking, the cool air brushing my skin and my cold feet on the snowy ice below me, I bathed until the tank was empty. I had an overwhelming invigorating sensation, which at the time I was in dire need of. Daily we are reborn, we wash; cleansing ourselves, we turn to rituals to heal and to be reborn over and over again. I sauna nearly every day. It is a routine for me, and in this art project, my sauna couldn't contain the heat of the stove as there were no walls, and would eventually fall through the ice as the seasons changed. At the time, I thought the project was about my lack of foundation and attempt to build myself without one. Yet here I am, skiing on pike lake, the sun setting, realizing my Granny was born here, her Mother (my Mummu) grew up here... Pike Lake is a huge part of who I am. My feet weren't even really cold -- mind you it was Feb. so it's not as though it wasn't an enjoyable warmish breeze... so what was the project really about? I knew as I filmed the lake and the high sun above me, along with the labours involved with the sauna ritual, the theme of rebirth was present. But when I look back, my Dad provided me with kindling to start my fire.. my Granny (along with many local Finns) was born in the sauna at the end of the lake --and without my Heritage -- what would this project have been? It was a "Self Portrait as a Sauna Stove" after all.