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 work is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.
One of the loveliest of the relatively uncommon groves of chokecherry, Prunus virginiana, the only tree (and fruit tree) that is native to every province and territory in Canada (and the northern half of the continental USA). While small clumps of chokecherry trees are common across Canada, they are uncommon on the BC Coast. The other part of the West Coast where this species occurs is in Mendocino Country in Northern California. This grove in Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve in the Hwmet’utsun Conservation Area on Salt Spring Island, has relatively old trees, verging on more than a century, along with large fallen trees, and saplings. The holes in the bark of older trees were made by woodpeckers.
The bark is the source of the medicinal in traditional cherry cough drops and the berries are good to eat (for both humans and crows). While I have seen no other large groves such as this, there are many young trees on Salt Spring Island most likely because the species is poisonous to deer which here is often in relatively high numbers because of predator suppression.
This grove of chokecherries is in a landscape with archaeological sites going back well over 5,000 years and Salish (Cowichan Tribes) presence continuous until well into the 20th Century and ongoing harvesting of some food resources. The sites with the chokecherry trees have signs of historic food processing.
A curious apple tree in the forest
The North American West Coast’s one native apple species, Pacific crabapple, Malus fusca, is the only New World apple species in the primary gene pool of cultivated, Eurasian apple, Malus pumila. Pacific crabapple’s range spans the North Pacific from California to Alaska to East Asia.
This curious apple tree is in the forest in Mount Maxwell Ecological Reserve, in the Hwmet’utsun conservation area on the west coast of Salt Spring Island and was blooming on May 3, 2018. The tree is between a half century and a century old and may have been planted as part of a failed attempted a homesteading. Or the tree, similar to some other volunteer apple trees on Salt Salt Spring Island associated with the last 19th Century, may well be the product of introgression between colonial cultivars and the native, Pacific crabapple. What is certain is that the pollen from such ‘forest apples, with more phenotypic characteristics of Malus pumila than those of Malus fusca, are producing pollen that is entering the gene pool of Malus fusca.
A fruit tree, like this one, that can cope with the kind of shade in this woodland could adapt to darker sites between buildings in urban areas.
an outline for a series panels and workshops 2018- 2022
Organic projects & regenerative public art practices:
Indigenous & decolonial
Panels and workshops are proposed as part of ongoing work on the live tree in public and other site-based art works, and related studies, spanning media such as drawings, photography and video as inherently multi-media works, is proposed as a topic for case studies, analysis, and theorizing in terms of the following narratives and schools of practices: public (and private) space and pressures for environmental justice; collaborative and performative production practices; indigenous, colonial, globalisation, decolonial and migration theory; diversifying notions of gender and sexuality extending to new views of ‘nature’ beyond those articulated by ecofeminism, queer theory and queer ecologies; divergent experiences of traditional knowledge and science as part of empirical investigations extending to artist practices; and multiple experiences of environmental crises. These theoretical, activist, and institutional prisms are proposed for two reasons. Nearly every contemporary outdoor and public work has a relationship with at least one of these conversations. And all of these conversations, as they relate to living plants as art objects[i] and cultural currency, are contentious and unresolved suggesting that the tree, as an awkward moniker of an aesthetic of collaborative survival, may well become a recurring symbol in twenty-first century visual culture. Secondly, all of this interest in trees, as or part of complex works of site-specific art, is occurring during the most rapid and massive loss of trees and forests in human history. The inclusion of or focus on living trees in contemporary art involves diverse experiences including anxiety, nostalgia, paralysis, and hope – while not escaping neoliberalism and new forms of cultural ‘greenwashing’. Further theorizing is warranted.
In nearly all of human history, visual art objects have been inert and relatively permanent. In the twentieth century, visual art shifted from a focus on easily monetized objects to include assemblages and site-specific installations[ii], including and sometimes centred on living things most notably trees. In the same period, the movements that coalesced as “relational aesthetics” has recast collaborative, cultural production practices as art works in them selves. In these organic projects and living sites movements, vegetable gardens have been ephemeral and ‘use’ of living animals and insects has been largely ill-fated. But trees have had a better run of nearly a half-century with aesthetics and social practices[iii] far different than the short-lived landart[iv] movement that more often effectively killed rather than fostered local ecosystems.
Trees in site-based, public art warrant investigation both as linked to a wide set of cultural movements and as a signifier of a range of transformations of contemporary visual art refocusing on site, collaborative and relational aesthetics, and re-centred narratives on challenging social inequities. And works with trees often touch on the following global conversations both inside and outside the art world:
- indigenous, colonial, and decolonial theory and aesthetics increasingly in the context of globalizations and migrations;
- public space (and private and privatising space) and pressures for environmental justice;
- collaborative and performative production practices;
- diversifying notions of gender and sexuality extending to new views of ‘nature’ extending beyond ecofeminism, queer theory and queer ecologies;
- divergent experiences of traditional knowledge, science and empirical investigation; and
- multiple experiences of environmental crises and responses through ideals of community sustainability.
The inclusion of living trees in site-based area has come at a time of rapid change where cultural products have diversified and valuation systems have often been further integrated with capital flow. Living trees defy one system of monetisation, focused on the purchase of art objects, while is rooted in a massive cultural economy of public art and space: design, installation, maintenance, and use.
Trees in site-based works also provide opportunities to explore a number of shifts and trends in cultural production, and political economies, in the twenty-first century.
a. from static works to interventions – Installation and maintenance of living trees involves a complex set of practices and collaborative relationships that extend from the artist(s) to the community often mediated by governments and economies. At times, living trees in contemporary work blurs the lines between permanent work and intervention. And when a tree dies from neglect, vandalism, or environmental degradation, this ‘event’ becomes part of the continuity of the cultural work.
b. expanded notions of multimedia and archives – The living tree in site-based works typically involves a series of studies and proposals that in turn form a body of multimedia work that begins to appear more like an archive. So at the core of the proposed work is how notions of ‘multiple-media works’ and ‘archives’ shift have evolved and how the lines have blurred with the use of living material. The tree become a kind of indefinite monitoring device for respective public space where the archive is indefinite as a kind of field station or ongoing research site.
c. expanded uses of (bio)technologies as culture – Environmental art practices, including use of live material, borrows from a range of technologies and technical cultures such as landscape architecture, urban design, and environmental sciences, making a new, and broader, form of (bio)bricolage in visual culture. The parameters and limits of this pot-pourri as ‘art’ and cultural production have been under-theorized. In particular, this environmental turn in material culture, since landart, has generated new visual semiotics that warrant further exploration.
d. tree significations and semiotics – Symbols as universal, and often as ambiguous, as live trees have conveniently plastic meanings and in the twenty-first century typically have one or more relationships to the six broader cultural dynamics and themes, that are sometimes contradictions, outlined earlier[v]. Today, these discussions and debates are drivers within much of contemporary visual culture outside of the commercial art market. But a large portion of public art in the late twentieth century has been used as an extension of urban planning and design.
e. trees and ecological practices remain largely marginal in public art theory – Both criticism and pedagogy for site-based, ‘environmental’, and ecological practices and respective works remain poorly developed.
f. parallel public art (bio)worlds – Today there are parallel milieux, schools, and academies of production of site-based environmental and public works between often technically poor and scientifically ‘sketchy’ works rooted in contemporary visual arts cannons, on one hand, and projects more comprehensively designed and executed but that are typically bland and kitsch and more closely regulated through municipalities, land markets, and professional institutions of landscape architecture, architecture, and urban design.
g. criticism for site-based visual works as organic projects – The criticism around contemporary works with living material has been lax and poorly developed. Aside from a small number of works, notably by Sonnfist and Beuys, trees are planted, descriptive articles are published that rarely involve critiques, and the works are integrated into blander urban design economies – until officials lose interest in maintenance and the trees tree and the associated works forgotten. With all of the uses of trees, critical (and better documentation) frameworks are warranted.
h. curating organic projects – Site-specific works with living trees often defy conventional curating (and ongoing evaluation and use) warranting use of a wider array of exhibition, archival, and interactive techniques – inline with some more general trends in contemporary art.
This proposal is organized by the following problem statement and then description of central questions to organize five years of investigations. Research methods and frameworks for theorizing are outlined.
Over the last century, trees have gone from being subjects for representation in visual art, while providing wood and paper for fabrication, to increasingly being living parts of contemporary works. In other words, aspects of agriculture and arboriculture cultivation are becoming practices in contemporary visual culture. Examination of this ‘environmental turn’ or ‘organic project’ allows us to anticipate a range of practices seeping into art production, curating, and criticism. But questions remain about the importance of these expanded notions of production, collaboration, and critical examination that have been only partially prefigured by landart and relational aesthetics[vi].
Is the half-century of trees in site-specific, multimedia works simply a fad and a gimmick or some new development in contemporary culture and visual language spanning both Western and a range of eastern and indigenous aesthetic cannons? Are trees in site-based art more of a form of landscape architecture or urban design than contemporary visual works? What is the relevance of such architectural fields, that sometimes position themselves as contemporary art but rarely attain the necessary credibility or creative innovation? Do trees in public art signal an integration of a range of principles and technologies, originating in agriculture, horticulture, and arboriculture, as practices for contemporary visual art? Are a small number of symbolic trees in public art works just a poor substitute, a mild or ritualised response, to destruction of entire ecosystems? How do the activities around, and respective information generated by, the installation of a site-based work, with a living tree, transform notions of public space, environmental monitoring, and the artistic archive?
questions & investigations
When are the uses of living trees in contemporary, site-based art entirely rhetorical and when do they touch on aesthetic discourses involving new (and recovered) material practices in art production? When do living trees in site-based art function as part of larger, multimedia works and how do these living elements function within aesthetic canons such as representation, documentary, and abstraction? When is use of living material used to realign and challenge aspects of public (and private) space and respective political economies? When do living trees in site-based projects and interventions touch on explorations of indigeneity, colonialism, postcolonality, and more contemporary migrations? How do notions of individual and collaborative production shift when other living beings, even ones that are only vegetative, are involved?
To organize these many questions, a range of works will be explored through six of the early twenty-first century conversations, social and cultural movements, and schools.
- How are living trees in site-based works used to both highlight and obscure the histories of places, communities and respective social inequities? What is the relevance of indigenous, colonial, and decolonial theory and aesthetics (increasingly in the context of globalisation and migrations)?
- In relation to discourses on public space and pressures for environmental justice, how are trees used to expand, and sometimes to constrain and privatise, enjoyment by local human populations?
- Within the expanding milieux of collaborative and performative production practices, how are the planting and protection of trees organized in relationship to local political economies and social movements?
- In the huge field of diversifying notions of gender and sexuality, we are seeing new views of ‘nature’ extending well beyond those articulated by ecofeminism, queer theory[vii] and queer ecologies[viii]. How do the complex manifestations of gender, often seen with trees, further expand our understandings of biology more generally? And what divisions of labour in these collaboration still persist?
- Today, use of trees in art production spans divergent experiences of traditional knowledge, science and other forms of knowledge. How do living trees highlight the unevenness of bodies of knowledge and how they are transmitted?
- Today, there are multiple experiences of environmental crises and divergent responses through ideals of community sustainability. When are trees in site-based works used as talismanic symbols and other times prescriptive, exploratory and even adversarial strategies – relation to perceptions of such crises?
An underlying theme in these examinations of trees in these site-based works is that the meanings of the use of these organisms in art are often so complex and ambiguous that the trope of tree-in-art-as-trees-disappear-in-the-world allows for inclusion of multiple themes and statements.
Field investigations will first examine a score of pioneering works with living trees:
1977 Alan Sonfist in Manhattan and subsequent projects[ix];
1982 Joseph Beuys in documenta 7, Kassel[x];
2008 Ron Benner’s expository gardens with indigenous perennials[xi];
2010 Los Angeles’ Fallen Fruit collective[xii];
2011 Jimmie Durham’s apple trees at Kassel with one recently vandalised[xiii];
2012 Duane Linklater conceptual sites with native trees in the Hudson Valley [xiv]; and
2012 The San Francisco Bay Area’s Guerrilla grafters[xv].
Another ten works that are in-progress, in different locales around the globe, would be investigated particularly for the art practices and production processes. One of these case studies would be a self-reflexive study of KEXMIN field station’s work with re-establishing orchards of Salish fruit trees (often closely related to Eurasian cultivars)[xvi].
In describing and evaluating these works, a wide range of information sources would be explored including the following:
- physical description of site-based art work over time;
- description of installation, interventions, performances, and ongoing use (including participant observation and semi-structured interviews);
- context over time (the neighbourhood and political economy);
- management, maintenance, modification, vandalism;
- interviews with knowledgeable critics; and
- comprehensive review of the writings on, including the criticism, on the work.
analytical frameworks & theorizing
Analysis of this work will go back to the various questions outlined above focusing on a small number that emerge in the investigations. The following will be some of the bodies of theory used to guide analysis and conclusions:
- overviews of public art and other site-specific works (sites, media, public enjoyment, controversy theory);
- overviews of landart and more recent environmental themes;
- aesthetic responses to environmental crises (including climate change[xvii]);
- Foucauldian discourse analysis focused on the evolution of aesthetics, practices, and institutions with some links to late post-structuralism such as Deleuze and Guattari’s 1980 A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia;
- theory on transformations in visual art production including the French “La sociologie de l’art” theorists;
- new materialisms[xviii] and some less visceral forms of ‘deep ecology’ theory;
- Northwest Coast visual and performative cannons (with which I grew up) including historic and contemporary innovations; and
- political economy and related class and governance theory especially related to public art and space (and related stakeholder analysis) in the context of globalisation and theories of appropriation, valorisation, and decolonisation.
[i] Lippard, Lucy. 1997. Six Years: The Dematerializaton of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972. Berkeley, California: University of California Press.
[ii] Kwon, Miwon. 2004. One Place after Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity. Cambridge: MIT Press.
[iii] Viegener, Matias. 2015. Speculative Futures: Social practice, cognitive capitalism and / or the triumph of capital. in Informal Market Worlds: The Architecture of Economic Pressure. Peter Mörtenböeck and Helge Mooshammer (eds.). Rotterdam: nai010. http://mviegener.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Viegener-Matias-Speculative-Futures-Social-Practice-Cognitive-Capitalism-andor-the-Triumph-of-Capital.pdf
[iv] Kaiser, Philipp and Miwon Kwon. 2012. Ends of the Earth: Art of the Land to 1974. New York: Prestel.
[v] neo-colonial versus decolonial 2. public / privatised space 3. collaborative and performative production versus atomised production 4. gender & sexuality: binary and heteronormative versus multiple genders and queer 5. traditional knowledge versus contemporary science 6. crises: solvable versus inevitable
[vi] Bourriaud, Nicholas. 2002 (1998). Relational Aesthetics. Simon Pleasance and Fonza Woods translators. Dijon, France: Les Presses du Réel. & Bishop, Claire. 2004. Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics. October 110 (2004): 51 – 80.
[vii] Ingram, G. B., A.-M. Bouthillette and Y. Retter (eds.). Queers in Space: Communities | Public Places | Sites of Resistance. Seattle: Bay Press.
[viii] Ingram, G. B. 2010. Fragments, edges & matrices: Retheorizing the formation of a so-called Gay Ghetto through queering landscape ecology. in Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics & Desire. Cate Sandilands and Bruce Erickson (eds.). Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. 254 – 282.
[ix] Sonfist, Alan, Wolfgang Becker, and Robert Rosenblum. 2004. Nature, The End of Art: Environmental Landscapes. New York: Distributed Art Publishers.
[x] Beuys, Joseph. 1982. 7000 Eichen – Stadtverwaldung statt Stadtverwaltung) / 7000 Oaks – City Forestation Instead of City Administration. Kassel, Hesse: documenta 7.
[xi] Benner, Ron. 2008. Gardens of a Colonial Present / Jardins d’un Present Colonial. London, Ontario: London Museum.
[xii] Goodyear, Dana. 2012. Eat A Free Peach: Mapping “Public Fruit.” The New Yorker (March 12, 2012). http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/eat-a-free-peach-mapping-public-fruit
[xiii] karenarchey. 2015. Jimmie Durham documenta13 work destroyed in Kassel. conversations e-flux (July 2015). http://conversations.e-flux.com/t/jimmie-durham-documenta13-work-destroyed-in-kassel/2036
[xiv] Duane Linklater. 2012. Untitled (a raspberry garden for 21st. St.). In conjunction with Bard Centre for Curatorial Studies and Family Business Gallery as point of a pointed poetic response to President Barrack Obama’s little known apology to Native Americans in 2010. http://www.duanelinklater.com/index.php?/raspberry/
[xvi] http://gordonbrentingram.ca/KEXMINfieldstation/2017/06/10/salish-fruit-tree-species-of-the-gulf-san-juan-islands/ & http://www.gordonbrentingram.ca/presqueperdu/index.php/2016/10/23/nearly-lost-re-introducing-images-of-vancouvers-native-salish-fruit-trees/
[xvii] Bunting, Madeleine. 2009. The rise of climate-change art. Guardian (London)(2 December, 2009).
[xviii] Dawson, Ashley. 2015. Radical Materialism Introduction. Social Text: Periscope (2015 March 8 Radical Materialism issue). http://socialtextjournal.org/periscope_article/radical-materialism-introduction/ & Cole, Andrew. 2015. Those Obscure Objects of Desire: The Uses And Abuses of Object-Oriented Ontology And Speculative Realism. Artforum (Summer 2015): 318 – 323. https://artforum.com/inprint/issue=201506&id=52280
Salish fruit tree species of the Gulf & San Juan Islands
Around the Salish Sea, there were more than six native, tree species that have been harvested and often carefully cultivated and stewarded for fruit, technology, and medicine. These orchards and respective cultivation practices span a rich set of Salish communities and languages. By ‘fruit tree’, we describe a relatively small deciduous tree that has been maintained by families and communities. With heights ranging from a meter and a half to three meters, these trees were often kept low in order to stimulate fruit production and allow for ease of picking (and more often through shaking with sticks). For some Salish fruit species, cultures and sites, orchards were maintained through planting of seed, transplanting, pruning, and light burning.
Of all of the fruit trees around the Salish Sea, this indigenous crabapple produced the most food and provided crucial amounts of carbohydrates and vitamins. Crabapples were eaten raw and preserved in water or eulachon oil in cedar boxes. And of the five, indigenous North American apples, only Malus fusca, is in the primary gene pool of the cultivated, Eurasian apple. Malus fusca grows near the coast of the North Pacific from central California to Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula and possibly to Hokkaido. Nancy Turner (2014: 59, 65) went as far as suggesting that this species was spread by early human migrants and consistently collected information from informants confirming that crabapple “[t]rees [were] tended pruned, lopped, and transplanted” (Turner 2014: 189).
Perhaps more than any of the other native fruit tree species around the Salish Sea, crabapple trees were “owned” (Turner 2014: 189) often passing from mother to daughter. And in some North-West Coast indigenous cultures, Pacific crabapple was considered a particularly powerful plant central to a complex conception of transformative twigs (as in the cuttings and vegetative propagation so central to Salish horticulture) leading to magical expansions of life into entire ecosystems for human benefit (Turner 2014: 344). In turn, crabapple orchards or ‘gardens’ were often well maintained and pruned.
This species of cherry tree is native to every province and territory in Canada. This particular cherry is relatively rare on the Pacific coast largely confined to the Salish Sea. Along the Pacific coast, from Salt Spring Island southward, this species is associated with better-watered sites in Garry oak woodlands and savannahs with this species, though perhaps a different subspecies, reappearing again near marine shorelines in Mendocino County, California.
This, the most bountiful of the cherries of north-western North America, has close Eurasian relatives extending to Western Europe. Around the Salish Sea, chokecherry were widely harvested, traded (Turner 2014: 124), and tended (Turner 2014: 189). Chokecherry bark was a crucial ingredient in a number of medicinal decoctions (Turner 2014: 437). Distinct varieties of this species were recognized by some Salish communities. So far, the specimens recorded around the Salish Sea have been consistent with the North-West Coast subspecies, Prunus virginiana ssp. demissa.
“The fruit of this ‘bitter cherry’ tree was not widely harvested but its wood was prized for knife handles and its bark was crucial for basket weaving” (Turner 2014: 124).
Two species of black hawthorn
On the Gulf and San Juan Islands and other areas around the Salish Sea, there are two distinct species of black hawthorn:
that is often considered a separate species in the United States as, Crataegus suksdorfii.
First Nations around the Salish Sea harvested the fruit and stewarded two species of Black hawthorn (Turner 2014: 272). “The dry sweetish fruits were eaten by the Island Salish groups, usually in the early fall. The Songhees ate them with salmon roe (Boas, 1890).[Turner & Bell]”
Crataegus douglasii var. douglasii is often more associated with the mainland and interior of British Columbia, which occurs more often as a large shrub with some tree forms on the Gulf Islands. In contrast, the island subspecies or species of Black hawthorn, Crataegus douglasii var. suksdorfii (with a distribution more centred on the coast), is more often in a taller, tree form. The label Crataegus douglasii var. suksdorfii corresponds to a species identified in the United States including for the San Juan Islands as Crataegus suksdorfii differentiated as a distinct species because “It is diploid versus tetraploid for Crataegus douglasii.” As well as subtle but consistent differences in the leaves of these two black hawthorn species, a simple differentiation can be made by examining the centre of a blossom. The flowers of “Variation douglasii” nearly always have 10 stamens with ovaries that are more often hairy whereas the flowers of “Variation suksdorfii” have 20 stamens and the ovaries are usually smooth.
California hazelnut occur near the West Coast of North America from California to Alaska and are closely related to Eurasian hazelnut species that occur as far west as north-western Spain. Within the populations on the North-West Coast of North America, there were two subspecies. The involucral ‘beaks’ attached to the nuts of Corylus cornuta var. cornuta are twice as long as the actual fruit / nut. In contrast, Corylus cornuta var. california fruit are attached to involucral beaks that are half that length and roughly the diameter of the sometimes larger fruit (that might be the result of indigenous domestication, stewardship, and ecosystem management).
Hazelnut was transplanted on the BC coast (Turner 2014: 203 – 204) and groves were sometimes managed through burning (Turner 2014: 198). Hazelnut were sometimes transplanted (Turner 2014: 365). There are records of historical orchards in northern areas such as the lower Skeena Valley that well into the twentieth century were defended by First Nations who asserted dietary dependence, ownership and stewardship. Around the Salish Sea, records of significant groves are for sites near indigenous settlements and historical population centres. On the Gulf Islands, a significant record of ‘wild hazelnut’ was around Beaver Point Hall on Salt Spring Island just above the Tsawout / mixed Saanich and Cowichan village on the island’s south-east shore.
Along with chokecherry, two other species are common in many interior regions of British Columbia and further east in Canada, and are thought to have been more common around the Salish Sea before 5,000 b.p.
Saskatoon berry, Amelanchier alnifolia, was transplanted by some First Nations in the region (Turner 203 – 204) as late as the early 20th Century.
Soapberry, Shepherdia canadensis, is thought to have been more common on the Coast and more important dietarily than it is now (Turner 2014: 140 – 144). Along the coast and in the interior, soapberry patches were “maintained by landscape burning, bushes pruned, berries scattered” and “occasionally transplanted” (Turner 2014: 191)
circumpolar Eurasian hybrids
All of the Salish fruit tree species, aside from Saskatoon berry and soapberry, are part of circumpolar gene pools with millennia of relationships with human beings and domestication processes — on both sides of Beringia. But there are some distinct differences between each side of the North Pacific. Nearly all of the petals of the Eurasian domesticates are one and a half to twice the size of the North American species. Another general difference between ‘wild’, traditionally stewarded, and indigenous, North American and domesticated and Eurasian, primarily north-western Europe, sides of those gene pools is this simple dichotomy:
aside from the Island species of black hawthorn, Crataegus douglasii var. suksdorfii / Crataegus suksdorfii, which blossoms simultaneously with slow leafing, the North American native fruit trees nearly always leaf-out a week or two BEFORE blossoming
the Eurasian domesticates nearly always produce blossoms before they leaf out.
And on the Gulf Islands there are circumpolar hybrids where blossoming and leafing are more simultaneous such as a probable,
hybrid of native bitter cherry, Prunus emarginata, and introduced, north-western European blackthorn or sloe, Prunus spinosa, that began to reproduce without cultivation starting in the twentieth century on Salt Spring Island, where blossoms and fruit begin with a double cluster several inches from the end of each branch like bitter cherry, with petals large like a European domesticate, and blossoming and leafing relatively simultaneous.
The Turner 2014 references above refers to the most definitive survey, so far, of indigenous tree crops in British Columbia:
Nancy J. Turner. 2014. Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge: Ethnobotany and Ecological Wisdom of Indigenous Peoples of Northwestern North America. Volume Two – The Place and Meaning of Plants in Indigenous Cultures and Worldviews. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Volume One is also crucial for understanding the human relationships with these species of fruit trees.
“lhexwlhéxw | chokecherry | Prunus virginiana” installed in Vancouver at Station & Terminal, late October and early November 2016, photograph by Alex Grünenfelder
Nearly lost: Re-introducing images of Vancouver’s native fruit trees
initial posters in the ongoing ‘Nearly Lost’ project
4 different posters installed in 20 bus shelters with the poster dimension 47.25 inches x 68.25 inches.
installation & locations
October 10 to November 7, 2016 (with locations attached)
castle grünenfelder ingram (Julian Castle, Alex Grünenfelder, and Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram with this project involving conceptualization by all three artists, research, photographing, and initial design conceptualization by Grünenfelder and Brochu-Ingram, text by Brochu-Ingram, and final designs and electronic conveyance by Grünenfelder)
castle grünenfelder ingram is a collective of three working on the cusp of public art, urban design, sustainability transitions, and intercultural conversations especially around First Nations legacies in public space and local territories. Only working together for two years, our individual work in Vancouver goes back decades along with other projects and installations in Kamloops, New York, London UK, Seoul, Geneva, and Prince George. As one of our projects, we coordinate KEXMIN field station, on Salt Spring Island, as a centre for research and learning spanning traditional indigenous knowledge and contemporary science for environmental planning, ecological design, public art and other forms of contemporary cultural production with a focus on the Salish Sea and its Gulf and San Juan Islands between the mainland of the North American West Coast and Vancouver Island.
castle grünenfelder ingram, 2016 Nearly lost poster #3 kwu7upay Pacific crabapple Malus fusca, installed in Vancouver at Commercial & Adanac, late October and early November 2016, photograph by Laiwan
text from project proposal
Nearly lost: Re-introducing images of Vancouver’s native fruit trees We propose large 2D imagery especially at bus stops, with video loop installations also possible for the video screens, of fruit and blossoms of several of the native fruit trees that have existed and continue to survive in the City of Vancouver — and that are of continued interest for First Native use, stewardship, and cultivation. Low resolution photographs would be enlarged, slightly saturated, and ‘montaged’ with educational text in English, Halkomelem (Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh snichim (Squamish) along with other widely spoken languages, and botanical Latin. For the 2015-2016, we would be able focus on making a number of montage posters celebrating two of the most common native fruit trees and more extensive Salish orchards, Pacific crabapple, Malus fusca, and chokecherry, Prunus virginiana ssp. demissa. Both of this crabapple species and this subspecies of chokecherry are limited to coastal ecosystems in BC, Alaska, and Washington State.
text on posters
four different posters with large type with,
1. lhexwlhéxw | chokecherry | Prunus virginiana
2. t’elemay (with two vertical accents over ‘m’ and ‘y’ and an acute accent over the ‘a’) | chokecherry | Prunus virginiana
3. ḵwu7úpay (with a vertical accent over the ‘y’) | Pacific crabapple | Malus fusca
4. qwa’upulhp | Pacific crabapple | Malus fusca
Along with the following headings is the following text for respective poster:
1. lhexwlhéxw | chokecherry | Prunus virginiana
One of the Salish names for chokecherry is lhexwlhéxw in the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ Downriver dialect of Halkomelem language.
2. t’elemay (with two vertical accents over ‘m’ and ‘y’ and an acute accent over the ‘a’) | chokecherry | Prunus virginiana
One of the Salish names for chokecherry is t’elemay (with two vertical accents over ‘m’ and ‘y’ and an acute accent over the ‘a’) in the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh snichim language.
3. ḵwu7úpay (with a vertical accent over the ‘y’) | Pacific crabapple | Malus fusca One of the Salish names for Pacific crabapple is ḵwu7úpay (with a vertical accent over the ‘y’) in the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh snichim language.
4. qwa’upulhp | Pacific crabapple | Malus fusca One of the Salish names for Pacific crabapple is qwa’upulhp in the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ Downriver dialect of Halkomelem language.
For the two posters on chokecherry, there is the following text: Chokecherry has been a major source of fruit and medicinal bark for indigenous bark for indigenous peoples on the West Cost. Trees continue to be owned, stewarded and harvested by families of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Watuth First Nations within today’s City of Vancouver.
For the two posters on Pacific crabapple, there is the following text: Pacific crabapple has been a major source of fruit and medicinal bark for indigenous bark for indigenous peoples on the West Cost. Trees continue to be owned, stewarded and harvested by families of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Watuth First Nations within today’s City of Vancouver. For the two posters on chokecherry, there is the following text: Chokecherry has been a major source of fruit and medicinal bark for indigenous bark for indigenous peoples on the West Cost. Trees continue to be owned, stewarded and harvested by families of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Watuth First Nations within today’s City of Vancouver. For the two posters on Pacific crabapple, there is the following text: Pacific crabapple has been a major source of fruit and medicinal bark for indigenous bark for indigenous peoples on the West Cost. Trees continue to be owned, stewarded and harvested by families of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Watuth First Nations within today’s City of Vancouver.
All four posters have the following text: This species is being studied at KEXMIN field station, a centre for conversations spanning traditional indigenous knowledge, modern science, and contemporary art — a project of castle grünenfelder ingram (Julian Castle, Alex Grünenfelder and Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram). The following text was provided by the City of Vancouver: Commissioned as part of the series Coastal City for the 25th Anniversary of the City of Vancouver Public Art Program Vancouver.ca/platform2016
Inkjet printer on paper photographing
The photographs in the attached images of the posters were photographed jointly by Alex Grünenfelder and Gordon Brent Brochu-Ingram. All of the photographs of the posters installed in the bus shelters were taken by by Alex Grünenfelder.
fabricators / suppliers
OUTFRONT MEDIA Decaux in cooperation with
the printer, LinxPrint, as service-providers to the City of Vancouver
castle grünenfelder ingram, 2016 Nearly lost poster #3 kwu7upay Pacific crabapple Malus fusca, installed in Vancouver at Nanaimo & East 3rd, late October and early November 2016, photograph by Laiwan
castle grünenfelder ingram, 2016 Nearly lost poster #4 qwa’upulhp | Pacific crabapple | Malus fusca, installed in Vancouver at King Edward & Ontario, late October and early November 2016, photograph by Sally Ogis