A viable cosmogony
With modernity, human beings have come to perceive themselves as actors of a higher order, unconcerned by the cycles and phenomena of the natural world. It has thus become easy for them to subjugate water, nature, plant and animal species, treating them as commodities whose sole value is exchange and use. This anthropocentric vision is spurring current capitalistic excesses that are leading us directly to an unprecedented ecological crisis. Yet water literally connects us to all forms of life. It is a gestational force, essential to the maintenance of life; hence the need to act by taking protective measures.
“Water is Life.” This motto lies at the heart of the activism of Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch, who strive to raise awareness of the importance of adopting environmentally friendly practices. Human beings are approximately 70% water, just as 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water. The total water mass of the hydrosphere, representing all of the Earth’s waters, has not changed since its formation three billion years ago. Which means that this element, circulating indiscriminately in all living beings, while transformed according to specific cycle, does not regenerate itself. With her paintings of interconnected medicinal plants, burgeoning from the same stems, Belcourt invites us to embrace our interdependent relationships in an ethical concern that reaches beyond the human realm to connect all forms of life.
Jin-me Yoon’s recent works also acknowledge the grandeur and force of nature. In relation to her earlier work, the human figure takes literally less space in the landscape. These new works inscribe human beings in a great whole of which they are an integral part, rather than present them in a position of centrality. Her sensitive gaze upon those around her, whom she chooses to portray in significant landscapes, such as Hornby Island and Pacific Rim National Park, highlights the deep attachment that connects these beings to their environment, much like the roots that Belcourt brings to light in many of her paintings. Jin-me Yoon and Christi Belcourt both show humility in the face of nature. This attitude transpires differently in their respective works, understood as means of raising consciousness that suggest new ways of living as a part of nature.
Curator of Contemporary Art
Musée d’art de Joliette
Image in the banner
View of the exhibition Christi Belcourt & Isaac Murdoch. Uprising: The Power of Mother Earth, Summer 2019, Musée d’art de Joliette. Credit: Romain Guilbault. Shown on the image: So Much Depends Upon Who Holds the Shovel, by Christi Belcourt (2008, Collection of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada) and Medicine Man Makes a Deal, by Isaac Murdoch (undated, collection of the artist).