Salt-Stained Streaks of a Worthwhile Grief
Salt-Stained Streaks of a Worthwhile Grief is the first exhibition by Fathom Sounds as a collective, and incorporates individual work, collaborative processes centered on this region, and collective work which stems from several residencies we carried out together in Skwxwú7mesh Territory, just north of Vancouver. There, we spent time around the fjord of Átl’ka7sem, where locals are fighting (and winning) a constant battle to protect the waters from a liquid fracked gas pipeline, a waterborne LNG storage facility, and regular mega-tanker traffic delivering LNG overseas. The proposed project sits on the former site of Woodfibre, a 100-year-old pulp and paper mill. Located on the ancestral and Unceded territory of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) peoples, Woodfibre LNG claims to be a remediation project, that will “clean up” the site, removing the remnants of pulp and paper mill and replacing them with liquified natural gas (LNG), a fossil fuel contributing to carbon pollution and global warming.
As with the work people are doing in Squamish, we were drawn to the parallels between water stewardship in Comox/Courtenay, the ancestral and Unceded traditional territory of the K’ómoks First Nation, being undertaken by settlers and Indigenous peoples through habitat restoration and protection education, for the K’ómoks Estuary.
We live in times where increasing floods, fire, and other climate events make it impossible to ignore the need for exploitative and extractive colonial culture to find a different relationship to the land and water. This urgency, coupled with the unpredictability of the COVID pandemic has necessitated in us a spirit of flexibility, gentleness, and generosity. Planned gatherings evolved into exchanges of letters, sound recordings, packages of materials, and other projects. We were called to ask: How do we gather, resist and protect in this time? How do artists counter colonial-capitalist perspectives that support exploitation and extractivism? When we take time to listen to these bodies of water, what do we learn? And what can we give back?
Salt-Stained Streak of a Worthwhile Grief was curated by Angela Somerset and Denise Lawson. We would like to thank Angela Somerset, Denise Lawson, David Lawson, Tom Elliott, and all of the staff and volunteer team at the Comox Valley Art Gallery, Wedlidi Speck, Caitlin Pierzchalski and Dan Bowen of Project Watershed, Frank Hovenden and Karen Cummins of Comox Valley Nature, and Tracey Saxby of My Sea to Sky. Thank you to Canada Council for the Arts for their generous support of this work.
Click on each image for more information about the work and image credits.