knowing more then we can tell. / by Courtney Chetwynd

Headed to Edmonton tomorrow to participate in this panel at the University of Alberta: 

I hope to voice some considerations on what it means, from my experiences of home, to undertake research  from an ethical Northern driven perspective, and talk about responsibility to the space in which you are working. Art and design needs to go beyond the limitations as 'objects', and move towards being active in place. To me this means a responsibility in thinking about our connections as part of place, not something we are separate from.


Growing up in the North taught me about following patterns, the importance of relationships, and an understanding of integrated and rooted knowledge.  I struggle with how tacit Northern knowledge can be understood by someone who has not spent time living, listening, and receiving the teachings embedded here. It is not something that is instantly attained, and I think that working without it is the same thing that contributes to the North's stereotypical regional identity and so-called solutions that just end up causing more problems and conflict (for example, cultural stratification). Completely disregarding the cultural context of where you are is dangerous. 

Things here are not always so explicit, the North's complexities cannot be known through reading, or gained through intellectual scholarship, but by listening, receiving, spending time on the land and with others. It means taking the time and care to do this, rather then rushed box-ticking exercises that are trendily deemed collaborative.  It means transcending yourself and submitting to standards that may be different from what you know. It means re-thinking the usual Euro-Western definition of sustainability. 

There is great potential in art and design to hold the space for and encourage dialogues around cultural and local identity and empower through projects that acknowledge and include personal histories and rich plural perspective. I wonder, how can art and design be guided by these ways of thinking through problems and help us communicate and gain understanding that lead to better, more effective solutions?