by Kellie Bornhoft
What does it mean to preserve a landscape for “the enjoyment of future generations” when climactic forecasts predict those generations will be fighting just to survive on this melting planet?
The two notions cannot coincide in one narrative. Public lands drew me in because of the myths imposed on them: myths of preserving an inhuman wilderness, myths of innocence in the histories of their conquering, and myths of their stability amidst a warming planet.
The book accumulates field notes, images, and a de-territorialized mapping system to locate the reader within the traversed time and space. The book avoids boundaries and namings of the public lands as an act of resistance. I drew a map to scale that follows the path I traversed, not other bounds. I indicated where the plaques were left in relation to my path. For further locating, I included latitude and longitude coordinates. I did this for specificity, although this universalizing system makes me shudder. Sequencing is important in this book’s arrangement. I dated the field notes and paired them with their corresponding plaques as a way to track time. The book closes with an essay to orient the work within feminist and decolonizing logic.
Being inherently drawn to the thrill of the outdoors myself, I had to reconcile the sensations of the experience to decide what form the work needed to take when brought back home. I casted and representationally painted more than a thousand replications of the original rocks. I piled them as rubble to provide structure to hold up footage of the plaques in their destinations. The video stitches the disparately located stanzas into a single poem. The installation serves as a quasi-monument for the initial gesture of giving words in these public landscapes.