The Rooting Project: ghosts
Sculpture and audio
In 1827 on the banks of the Speed River, John Galt and a small crew symbolically cut down a maple tree to mark the founding of the City of Guelph. In Galt's autobiography of 1833, he describes the echo of the axe felling the ancient maple tree as "the sigh of the solemn genius of the wilderness departing forever..."
The Rooting Project was an attempt to resurrect this tree and rewrite its mythology. In the months preceding the sculpture's creation, I harvested invasive plant species along the Speed River. I pulped the fibre from these plants and made it into paper sheets embedded with native seeds. This paper bark was sewn onto a constructed wooden frame in the form of a maple tree. I also created a sound piece with Robert Kingsbury that was installed inside the trunk of the tree. For the piece, quotes from the autobiography of John Galt were remixed with a narrative of the history of the site from the perspective of the land itself. In the months after the installation, the bark pieces were planted along the river.
This mishmash of story and matter offered a feminist subversion of the colonial narrative.
Sound Editing: Robert Kingsbury
Writing: Christina Kingsbury
Voice: Robert Kingsbury, Aislinn Thomas,
Installation team: Kimm Khagram, Ward Pangborn, Janet Morton, John Vanstein
Photos: Dean Palmer
Guelph International Jazz Festival Nuit Blanche, Guelph, 2012