We use land up, drain its resources, and fit it to our needs. In “A Thread, Extended,” a darkly gorgeous exhibition organized by curator Amy Halliday at Northeastern University’s Gallery 360, three artists mindful of damage done approach places curious about what they have to reveal.
In Odette England’s stark, stunning photo-sculptures, thread connects the artist to her mother and the family’s former dairy farm in Australia. England bends black-and-white negatives to echo the farm’s shape, creating cracks that reflect its borders. She sends these to her mother, Helen, who sews up them up.
When England prints the manipulated negatives, the stitches become giant, white, Frankenstein-level sutures. She then sews her own red trails on the prints.
The photographic image captures the land’s scope and beauty. The creases represent capitalist notions of ownership. The stitches convey the everyday labor of generations of farm women. Three different histories of one place imply there are more, many beyond our grasp.
Justin Levesque examines how we’ve gutted the Arctic through exploration, mineral extraction, tourism, and climate change. Levesque is a hemophiliac; he links his own fragility with that of the land. His art uses signals and maps as markers of humanity’s presence in a delicate, melting landscape. In the video “Proxy,” he pulls a buoy that’s red as an ambulance siren behind him, walking backward through the snow as if leaving a trail. But in snow already littered with footprints, the path is faint, the way home confusing.
Allison Maria Rodriguez’s video installation “all that moves” takes us to Churchill, Manitoba. Areas around Churchill are derelict. A military missile test site was active from the 1950s to the 1980s. Then, too, the Canadian government forcibly relocated members of the Sayisi Dene First Nation to Churchill in the 1950s, creating decades of suffering. The government apologized in 2016.
In otherworldly videos, Rodriguez takes us from scrubby plants and pebbles at ground level to animations of the Aurora Borealis overhead. In between are the shards and vestiges of what humanity has left.
“A Thread, Extended” reminds us these places are much more than the marks we leave there — even if the scars are permanent.
A THREAD, EXTENDED
At Gallery 360, Curry Student Center / Ell Hall, Northeastern University, 346 Huntington Ave., through Oct. 2. 617-373-3682, https://camd.northeastern.edu/cfa/center-for-the-arts-exhibitions/a-thread-extended/
Cate McQuaid can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @cmcq.