Lac Leamy revisited
It is a new season of nomadic residencies and we begin with a visit to Lac Leamy. Is the uneasiness in the air or is it in me? The record flooding in the Outaouais strikes a discordant note to the tender green shoots on the trees and grasses where the water has receded. The month of May was filled with dread as the waters from the Gatineau and Ottawa rivers kept rising. I went several times to visit Lac Leamy where the Gatineau river flooded the parking lot at the end of rue Atawe to about chin level on the far sidewalk.
Ensemble Nomad.e wants to see and hear changes brought with the flooding. This morning is cold and wet, we arrive around 9:00. The water is receding more rapidly now. Standing in drizzle without shelter we can not draw. Donning our rubber boots and rain gear, we begin to investigate how far we can walk around the lake, not far… the ground is spongy with mud and silt. It is slippery and the smell left behind by the receding water is foul. Goose shit is everywhere with occasional piles of other crap. Logs are out of place and the ribbons of leaves and small twigs leave evidence of how high the water reached in early May. There are no other humans but we see many herons, geese and ducks.
By the end of the week, the humans are back with all types of activities; including sun bathing and picnicking over plastic covered tables. The herons are gone. This urban lake is at a crossroads of massive human and aquatic activity. The remaining traces from the flood are both beautiful and intense. We laugh and cry, feel the calm growth of spring green and witness the surreal mud-soaked picnic table tops that served as our base last September.
gail bourgeois . emily rose michaud
Ensemble Nomad.e, a multi-year project, make visual works that emerge from the distinction of place near a body of water. Working seasonally over the next five years, Ensemble Nomad.e will continue moving from place to place within a local bioregion, listening to and learning from both the natural world and human activity. Through a feminist lens our work shifts personal grief into political agency.
– To face creatively —with courage — the social climate and ecological crisis of our current moment.
– To consider our creative practice in relation to the whole of a bioregion.
– To make art work that emerges from our wanderings.
– To practice speaking and acting — with no anticipated outcome — on matters of common concern.
– To embody knowledge based on translation of self and other, including body/land/memory.
– To inform our project by slowing down, thinking relationally and by inviting diverse collaborators i.e., scientists, architects, activists, curators, artists.
Ensemble Nomad.e on Instagram: @ensemble.nomad.e
I am fifty percent of the newly named collective Ensemble Nomad.e. My colleague is the artist Emily Rose Michaud. In 2019, we will continue our practice of self-directed nomadic residencies to weave an affective bundle of connective experiences. Being in nature to make art pieces that respond to the distinction of place, wraps all the pleasures of being in biodiversity with creative time away from ordinary routines.
Although we are in the early stages of our collaboration, our relationship to the bio-regions, territories and watersheds where our residencies take place grows deeper with each encounter. Nourished by our curiosity, we are dedicated to the pleasure of noticing the multispecies worlds around us and to connecting with them in meaningful ways.
Last year, we began a multi-year project in which we visit new locations from April-October. The sites we choose are always near a body of water, where we create drawing-based, site-specific work outdoors for four or more days. In 2018, we undertook a total of four residencies: PAF, Farrellton, Québec (July 2018); Lac Leamy, Gatineau, Québec (August 2018); Mer-Bleue, Ottawa, Ontario (September 2018); Artscape Gibraltar Point, Toronto Island (December 2018).
Here is a set of works completed on site.