12 Apr 2019
Emilia Beatriz’s declarations on soil and honey draws on their ongoing research between Scotland and Puerto Rico in sites connected by military occupation, land struggle and environmental toxicity. For this exhibition, CCA has commissioned a speculative narrative based on oral histories with beekeepers and crofters from Vieques, Puerto Rico and near Cape Wrath, Scotland.
Cape Wrath is an area of land on the North West tip of Scotland which is also an active NATO bombing range. Vieques, an island in the archipelago of Puerto Rico was, until 2003, a testing range for US military ordinance. When after a half-century-long struggle led by fishermen and locals, the Vieques range closed, three US ships came directly to Scotland to continue their exercises. This exhibition begins to map these connections and re-work them into ‘healing narratives’ reflecting on ecological resistance, local knowledge as infrastructure, and navigating crisis, grief and environmental loss - as a body, a collective body, or an island. These sites and stories, as well as domestic and fictional spaces, are at the core of the film and installation, with sound design by Kiera Coward-Deyell.
Emilia Beatriz said: “I’ve been thinking a lot about the word accountability, linked to the question of what demands we make of the future - what do we care for, what do we want to show up for in terms of our future and our past, what might a reparative relationship with the future look like? I’m interested in the idea of making absence visible in history and embracing complexity and contradiction - there are multiple sides to a story.”
A series of moss infrastructures inhabit and support a haptic experience in the gallery space, making reference to the historical use of moss as antibacterial wound dressings and sanitary products, as the soft top to the peat bogs which cover Cape Wrath and retain the carbon in the ground, as a protective layer or filter, as a dia/spora (spore) that travels through the wind.
Emilia continues: “Environmental justice is really important thread in the work as is how oral histories are important as a way of rewriting the future. I was honoured that so many people were willing to share their stories with me and contribute to the narrative with their ways of working with bees and the land. One of the main things I continue to learn in these conversations are what we have the potential to grow ourselves - land, water supplies, food, care practices, support structures - ways of building access to resources that we need as a community, rather than always looking to politics.”
Aurora Levins Morales’ writing on The Historian as Curandera is an important methodology in Emilia’s practice. This text speaks about how to think differently about the past and present, and how dominant cultural memories are produced by colonising powers. Levins Morales speaks of how to tell history differently and to involve new ways of looking at relationships to the environment and politics by shifting the perspectives from which histories are told and remembered.
Putting this methodology into practice, Emilia’s work offers creative meditations on embodied or land-based healing practice encoded in a moss and bee-based hum, encouraging deep listening and engagement in conversations between the two islands, centring practices of self-repair and ecological resistance from the ground up.
Ainslie Roddick, CCA Curator, said: “This exhibition is part of a process of research that started long before this commission and will continue well beyond it. Emilia’s process has revealed so many layers and tangents of knowledge, from moss sexual reproduction to discussions on land ownership, to learning about Glasgow School of Art’s use as a sphagnum moss processing depot during WW1. There have been many serendipitous moments of metaphor, language and translation. It’s been a joy to be part of it and to think with the moss, the bees, and the land to bring a space of reflection to the gallery for a while.”
The exhibition will be accompanied by two tours on 22 June. It also includes the launch of an autonomous seed library based at CCA, and a dual language 2HB in Spanish and English (CCA’s journal for creative writing) with Scottish writer Daisy Lafarge and Puerto Rican poet Nicole Cecilia Delgado. The event programme includes repeated screenings of Sofía Gallisá Muriente’s film Assimilate and Destroy, a film which speaks both socially and materially about the strangeness of an ice rink in Puerto Rico, and how climate conditions memory - through a salty, alchemical 16mm filmmaking process. Sofía’s work speaks about memory, humidity and decay, and ways of telling stories differently – concerns that are also referenced in the oral and written histories which surround the works in the show.
Supported by The Hope Scott Trust and GSVAA.
declarations on soil and honey
Sat 4 May – Sun 30 June 2019
Tue-Sat: 11am-6pm // Sun: 12noon-6pm // Preview: Fri 3 May, 7pm-9pm // Free
Assimilate and Destroy by Sofía Gallisá
Wed 8 May, Fri 17 May, Sat 25 May, Sat 1 Jun, Fri 7 & 14 Jun, 11am-6pm, Wed 19 & 26 Jun, 11am-4pm, Free (unticketed) / All ages
Exhibition tour (quiet hour): Sat 22 June, 10am, Free but ticketed / All ages
Exhibition tour with BSL interpretation: Sat 22 June, 2pm, Free but ticketed / All ages
CCA’s Glasgow Seed Library will be available from Fri 14 Jun during CCA opening hours.
Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA), 350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G2 3JD