Walking Memory – English

Asthildur Jonsdottir & Lisa Lee Benjamin

Women and Landscape: a special relationship?
Based on the interviews it is clear the women of Vals have a special relationship to the cultural landscape. They speak of the barns freely as if it is a part of them even if they were or are not farmers. They all have memories and a fondness as well as and in-depth intimate knowledge of how old barns are, building styles, repairs, and regulations. Through their voices we learn about their connections and their concerns for environmental preservation, economic development, and a call for an integrated approach between conservation and change. One has a sense they are very present to the changes which have taken place, as well as the current challenges and are curious what the future holds. Their correspondence with the landscape is extremely vivid in the description of the plants, the closeness to the animals and the awareness of their actions on the land, revealing a spiritual affinity and personal transformation just by being in, of and part of nature. Life is seen as a tapestry or mesh rather than hierarchical in structure. Through their voices weeds around the barns become alive and giving, as they are fodder for the animals and healers for the people. The feminine spirit of receiving and gathering is exemplified in their inherent knowledge of what is here in the Valsertal. Their is a desire for more harmony, and a appreciation for the decentralization of the past, as well as a willingness to embrace, protect and enhance what is already here.

The installation takes place both in the Brügga Stall and in Amöbe – the art space which is across the street.

The installation in Brügga Stall
Recycled Polyester & Cotton, Acrylic, Charcoal, Sound Installation 

The sound installation is a tapestry of 12 women’s voices speaking of their connection to the barns and their surrounding biotopes. The interviews were mostly recorded while walking and focused on their local knowledge, memories and experiences.  With simultaneous conversations playing from both the left and the right, the visitor is thrown into a sea of memories and perspectives. The textiles in the space are hand drawn on recycled transparent fabric and are representations of the prominent flora mentioned in the interviews. They float in the space like distant summer memories.

List of Plants in the stall:
Alpine Doc Rumex alpinus, Nettle Urtica urens, Kidney Vetch Anthyllis vulneraria, Forget Me Not Myosotis alpestris, Dandelion Taraxucum officinale, Spring Crocus Crocus vernus, Yarrow Achillea millefolium, Orchard Grass Dactylis glomerta.

Exhibited in Amöbe Dec 2021 – Feb 2021

Underlying Flora
snow, watercolour

The participants painted a snowball with water colours based on their memories from the landscape. The snowball was then placed on a piece of 300 grams weight watercolor paper in Amöbe window sill to dry over the course of our working week. As the snow melted, their color memories moved, sifted and swirled in diverse forms. The result was 12 unique forms representing each participants personal recollection of the snow-covered flora.

Guide me to a Barn
Recycled cotton and black thread

 As part of the participatory exercises each participant hand drew a map to their favorite barns from memory. The map was then embroidered onto 12 recycled white cotton napkins in black cotton thread. The napkins are awaiting the next action of a summer picnic at each of the barns. Most of the participants said they could not mention one special barn as they were all so important for Vals. One woman put it very elegantly by saying “The barns are like a faces to me – so Vals without barns would be like a face without expression”.

Our findings highlight the importance of collaboration between the artist and the broader community, as a new perspective or sensitivity can come about which did not exist in that form before.

Participants:
Pia Berni, Margarit Walker, Valeria Vieli, Ursi Schmid- Rieder, Manuela Peng, Nanna Jensen, Riona Illien, Amy Illien Jensen, Alexa Schmid, Heidi Reuf, Ines Mittner, Silvia Vieli

Support:
Forum Vals, Vals lebt —Stallgeschichten. Kulturfenster Vals. Special thank you to Andy Oesch, Laura Berni Meyer, Jörg Rüedi, Paul and Susan Gartmann.