The 2014 – 2016 studies, designs and interventions that comprise À la recherche de certaines récoltes presque perdu: Decolonising permaculture: The greatest adversity comes from forgetting are in response to Utopiana’s call for the thematic residency, La Bête et l’adversité. We explore one ‘beast’ in nature: human memory and the ways that biology, culture and our individual developments mediate what we know of landscapes and how we interact and sometimes transform public spaces. In this context, we explore divergent experiences of the postcolonial world: the Geneva region that was not colonized and has had an uneven relationship with the imperial and modernist projects and the still decolonising Salish Sea region of the South Coast of Pacific Canada and adjacent Puget Sound in the United States of America.
Within these landscapes, we explore and imagine reinserting dwindling populations of wild and traditional tree crops, in the gene pools of
apple and pear,
plum and cherry,
raspberry and blackberry, and
blueberry and cranberry.
Tree fruit in this project also becomes a focus for exploring ecological and cultural legacies and ‘gifts’ within ecosystems with renewed interest in philosophies of gratitude so central to indigenous cultures in the Western Hemisphere. The divergent indigenous cultures of these gene pools, that span both the Geneva and the Vancouver-Seattle regions across Europe, Asia, and north-western North America are reconnoitered. In this way, we critique and begin to decolonise popular and sometimes trite notions of ‘permaculture’, a set of principles and practices for diverse and more sustainable agro-ecosystems by re-centring the roles of traditional knowledge and learning from and respecting local gene pools (and associated human populations).
Initiating our investigations of forgetting, memory and remembrance as an often irascible beast within nature (and human lives), the contributions of Proust, and in particular his now waning modernist notions of the individual, landscape, and desire codified in À la recherche de certaines récoltes presque perdu comprise a key source for understanding the legacies of the colonial projects within Europe and in margins such as Pacific Canada. In understanding this broader loss of memory and ecosystem under modernism and individuals, we construct another aspect of the emerging movement of decolonial aesthetic specifically departing from and ‘rifting’ with Proustian nostalgia. A century ago, Proust’s modernist aesthetics largely obscured labour, ecology, and political economy from experiences of landscapes, agriculture, and indigenous and traditional communities. Today, contemporary aesthetics are back to more fully appreciating cultural legacies in nature as well as the crucial role of traditional knowledge and communities and material relationships more generally.
Our endgame, in À la recherche de certaines récoltes presque perdu: Decolonising permaculture: The greatest adversity comes from forgetting, is to propose and begin to demonstrate some interventions in public space that re-establish small groves of these often declining tree crops. As beneficiaries of the tree planting legacies of artists Joseph Beuys and Alan Sonfist, we argue that agriculture and horticulture embody practices central to the collaborative and community-based impulses in contemporary art. In this work, we are also strongly influenced by the relational aesthetics proposed over a decade ago, that are more concerned with social learning than production of static art objects, and more recent forms of radical materialism centred on cultural cognition of threats to the biosphere and human life support and that in turn challenge to intensifying social inequities.
Just as important as generating a beneficial ecological impact through nurturing traditional local gene pools, habitats and communities, we make ‘installations’ and archives with what we can find from recycled paper and ink to digital photographs, videos and text made with old computers and mobile telephones and reworked versions of software and apps. So in a time of new forms of impoverishment for artists, our approach is aggressive in the mixing of discarded and repurposed media taking inspiration from the minimalism and disregard for polish of the Arte Povera movement of Italy in the 1970s.
This site only holds the work of Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram. Collaborative work completed in this project is posted at www.castlegrunenfelderingram.space/perdu.
In using this site, the categories listed on the left, seen after further scrolling, link to particular aspects of project development and specific works. Each of these categories represents a longer-term project that we hope to explore more fully in coming years.
Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram of castle grünenfelder ingram
A portion of the total travel costs of Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram has been paid by the Canada Council for the Arts.
The bulk of support to complete this work is being provided by the Utopiana artist centre of Geneva which is supported by an array of local and regional agencies and organizations.