Posted by Adam on December 16th, 2016
By Daniel Walker
At last year’s Visualeyez festival, the students of University of Alberta professor Natalie Loveless’s Fall 2016 seminar course “Ephemerality and Sustainability in Contemporary Art” (ArtH 456/556) responded to performances at the festival.
Part One: Walks
As we are bundling up for our first of two walks, Linda Dornan tells me that she tries to get outside as often as she can. After all, an attunement to one’s surroundings, just like kindness, is something that is practiced; constantly developed. We are not looking for anything in particular, she tells us as we walk: what we encounter will be left up to chance, and as objects speak to us they will be collected.
On our walk, we chat about our daily lives, academic interests, and hobbies. We talk about Dornan’s artistic practice as something heavily process-oriented, and when the topic turns to sustainability and climate change, Dornan emphasizes the role of education as vital to any movement. Education, and more importantly, collaboration at all levels are what matter. Linda walks with a quiet focus, occasionally dropping out of step when she spots a color she likes in the grass, or a stray shoe in an alleyway.
Dornan’s re-attunement to her surroundings displays a particular kindness to objects normally overlooked and discarded. More than this, these are objects typically seen as a burden, and unpleasant to look at. As I walk with Linda, paying attention to the fascination with which she discovers lost objects, I am struck by the care that she demonstrates, treating these materials as friends and collaborators. Looking for the refuse of city life, picking things up that nobody wants, suggests the generative value of orienting oneself differently to the world; looking at our surroundings differently. An ecological derive, I can only anticipate our next walk together.
The day arrives for our next walk.