Joanne Bristol’s artistic practice locates ways in which nature and culture are co-constitutive by critically and performatively engaging with more-than-human processes of urban spatial production. Human and more-than-human agencies are articulated by emphasizing the performativities of writing, drawing and photography in response to physical and conceptual sites of natural and built environments. These media are iterated – through gestures of observation and inscription – as modes of performative writing and publishing. Through a curiosity regarding overlooked spaces and scales of natural and built environments, and by using nonproprietary and decolonizing approaches, her practice asks how ‘becoming with’ species is a way of becoming worldly. Her recent performative writing and publishing use formal figure-ground play to address contested sites of identity and belonging. Examples range from poetic reports on human-avian lines of flight and habituation in modern art history (The Daily Voleur, 2014), to modern geopolitical displays of alpine multispecies assemblages (Public 50: The Retreat, 2014).
During the MAP residency Joanne will address questions of place and belonging through a study of multispecies spaces. Focusing on tracing the pathways of settler plant species, her project will use artistic fieldwork to investigate spatial trajectories, rootedness and other relational agencies. Fieldwork will involve daily walks in the Comox Valley area, using writing, drawing and photography to observe multispecies relations. It may also involve exchanging stories with local researchers and lay experts on plant species. Findings will be assembled and published in two formats: as photographic projections on gallery walls, and as printed multiples. A workshop, titled, ‘mediating the valley: multispecies relations and performative writing’, will experiment with a range of observation, reading and writing approaches in response to spacings and timings of local plant life.
 This question follows feminist theorist Donna Haraway’s approach to understanding companion species entanglements. See Donna Haraway, When Species Meet (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008), p. 3.
Joanne Bristol trained as an artist in Saskatoon (BFA, University of Saskatchewan) and Halifax (MFA, NSCAD). As well as presenting performances, installations and text-based works across Canada and internationally, she curates and has taught at a number of Canadian universities. She recently completed a PhD at University College London (London, UK), using performance and writing to study interspecies spatial relationships in urban contexts.
image: Untitled (weed sketch), 2015.