Alana Bartol, Water-witching Workshops, 2015-present. A selection of images from Water-witching Workshops conducted in conjunction with various residencies and exhibitions at Access Gallery (Vancouver), Eastern Edge Gallery (St. John's, NL), Union House Arts (Port Union, NL), and the WORK OF WIND: AIR, LAND, SEA, a site-specific outdoor contemporary art exhibition and programming series curated by Christine Shaw, presented by Blackwood Gallery, U of T Mississauga. Photos: Yuula Benivolski (Courtesy Blackwood Gallery), Jane Walker (Courtesy of Union House Arts), Photos Courtesy of Eastern Edge Gallery, and Emma Metcalfe Hurst (Courtesy of Access Gallery).
Participants explore various dowsing tools and their uses. Y-rods are fashioned from branches found in the local area. Other tools are made from everyday household objects: coat hangers become l-rods and drain plugs become pendulums. All are welcome, even the skeptics.
Dowsing is inquiry; it involves asking questions and through the process one learns how to ask better questions. While the rod’s ensemble of responses is limited to “yes,” “no,” or “unclear”, it can point to new insights, directions, and answers, re-imagining new ways of communicating and being with and within the more-than-human world. Through this work, dowsing has become an act of listening to sites and materials, revealing the agency of the more-than-human world.
In my artwork, dowsing becomes a way to reconsider exploitative, consumption-driven, colonial relationships to the earth and what are known as natural resources. The term ‘natural resources’ itself implies that water, land, mineral ores, and other essential bodies of the earth are for humans to utilize, extract, appreciate and exploit. Can dowsing tools, once used for prospecting, be transformed into tools for empathy, opening up new possibilities in our relationship to the earth?