As a social sculptor the Visalia project had immediate interest. It’s central theme was a celebration of agriculture in the late summer early fall—In the terms of both Lori’s and my own communities we might call this a harvest festival, akin to the best sentiments of Thanksgiving and equally akin to the vexing paradoxes and conflicts that intersect here.

In designing the project we immediately confronted the reality that agriculture is not some sort of shared pastoral paradise but rather sits atop a matrix of social fissures that intersect all our lives and communities sometimes dividing them bitterly. Who is agriculture? Who’s agriculture do we acknowledge? Do we align with the organic farmer and local co-op or the corporate seed developer? Do we engage in labor movement issues or do we work with landowners? Where do we start historically—with the indigenous native tribes, the early Spanish and other settlers, or at the birth of American agriculture?

To look at any harvest is to look at the land and the people on it and this immediately involves politics and economics. Lori and I, at least in this case, came to see these as at odds with community and at odds with the moment we were being asked to address, namely creating a moment to embrace your neighbor because together you share something even if agreeing on what exactly is shared seems impossible. How to apportion that sharing even more problematic.

So, in developing Where the Fruits of Labor Reside, we decided to favor community over any other stance, to acknowledge that people of disperse histories and even more diverse beliefs exist together in a community. We decided that to deliberately make choices based on our own or our sponsors allegiances would not create a tent for a whole community. Too often there is talk about ‘our community’ but a choice made to not include some persons within our collective demographic based on taste, ideology, or shame. In most families there are members with whom we share little and agree on even less and yet they are family. This simple and admittedly naïve stance is the one we decided to pursue. So we began asking for those willing to be a part of the project and offering them a place, the only requirement being that no one asks for the exclusion of another. For this Art Project is a small moment, a mere gesture. Within this small work, and festival moment we seek to check our differences away and share in the beauty that is the bringing forth of the essential from the earth.

Duane McDiarmid’s Trickster Project where people congregate to share Ice Cream in the dessert.The Solar powered work brings together a diverse range of individuals when it appears un-announced at remote locations in the western U.S.A.

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