This chapter reflects on the tensions between house-as-home and house-as-commodity, place attachment and detachment, being in place and out of place. The first art projects are based in Cornwall (UK), a much-loved tourist destination mythologised in the recent BBC production of Poldark, but also notable for its not so visible acute housing precarity. This is the place Vickery called home before recently relocating to the city of Bristol, the subject of an embryonic project. Initially intending to think through practice as an artist and geographer about her shifting relationship to a particular place and her anxiety in leaving, this geography of home and unhoming leads to a wider feminist-orientated reflection in which she calls for a destabilisation beyond place attachment of our own intimate practices of home and identity, a politically productive positioning given the insidious othering of people deemed to be ‘out of place’.
This chapter brings a geologically focused inflection to landscape studies. Using a non-representational approach to practice, informed by geo-aesthetics and feminist materialisms, Vickery reflects on a performance in a stream—the site of flash-flood in Cornwall (UK). This reflection neither precludes thinking landscape in terms of the political consequences of visual representation, nor as performed, subjective process. Using the disruption of performance by the accidental demise of her mobile phone, she speculates that landscape is additionally marked by ephemeral material process and agential geologic process, human and of the Earth. As a result, she suggests there is a need for artists to attend to the political landscape via the intimacies of mundane, everyday narratives to understand material and geologic landscape encounters.
Beyond Painting, Beyond Landscape: Working Beyond the Frame to Unsettle Representations of Landscape
In this article I reflect on an art practice-based project that I have been working on in response to a particular landscape in the far west of Cornwall that was subject to a violent storm and flash flood in 2009. Landscape studies in geographical discourse have a long history of engaging with critiques of representation that focus on the power of the frame to conflate the culturally and politically constructed image of landscape with a substantive material and embodied form of knowing. Parallel developments within art discourse have shifted from a consideration of the form and essence of the art object to thinking about the troubled, uncomfortable operations of images and the generative work that art does. As such, both landscape and image could be described as provisional and generative, involving troubled subjectivities; both could be said to operate through processes of dissemblance, instability, and ambiguity that perform across and between frames. In light of such critiques, how might a visually orientated arts practice (understood in a materialist, embodied, and emergent sense) function amidst the aporetic hauntings and dissonant conditions found in this landscape?
In a response to a request to consider issues around 'rural arts practice', I write in the light of the events, performances, installations and seminar that made up BOS-08 and a BOSarts research trip, funded by ALIAS to Grizedale and Allenheads Arts in August 2008.