On Land

FB: Artist from the Land Art Movement in the 60’s and 70’s desired to connect people to the land and bring art out of the gallery setting. Do you think the objective of your art overlaps with this aspect, or any aspect, of the Land Art Movement artists, such as Robert Smithson or Andy Goldsworthy? Why or why not?

MM: Smithson described site and nonsite, nonsite referring to the gallery. I’d add that site and nonsite blend together now more than ever as site and history is just as relevant to the gallery as well as to the spaces outside. The center and periphery blur and switch places as the engine of capitalism continues its colonization and expansion. As artists, we can’t ignore this as a particular context in which we place the work, ignoring all that came before it. In relation to Land Art I refer to Ana Mendieta who dismissed associations with Land Art, a category she associated with the brutalization of nature in order to glorify industry, and the modernist tradition in turn. I’m really looking through a context of pre-modern conditions, specifically as it relates to the interdependence between geography and land, animals, nonhumans, and humans.

FB: Oscar Wilde wrote that, “The artist can express everything. Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art.” Looking at the process you went through with your own work, particularly the Own-it.us project, do you agree with that? What were you trying to express? Would you like for individuals to take action based on this expression?

MM: Our languages and actions are interdependent and symbiotic. One affects the other, so utilizing (and respecting) all of our available languages (verbal, gestural, symbolic) in concert is important. Our ability to express them together forms our own empowerment. It’s also necessary to recognize and account for the fact that languages change; they can become ineffective and lose their meaning. To me this means we don’t abandon them but rather need to continually rearticulate them.

FB: Your On Land exhibition causes one to look at ‘place’ in a new way. Do you feel a sense of place is important in your work? If so, when do you feel that it’s strongest?

MM: Yes, place is very important to me in my work. It evokes particular and specific stories that describe time, land, environment, social systems, and indirectly the fetishization of these things. In a way that was what a lot of the photographs were about, merging the relationship of one place to another in photographs through collage or objects out of their original context. Sometimes I evoke unspecific place, and this is just as important to me. It reinforces the relationships between the processes of production, distribution and consumption.

FB: In one of your videos, you mention how it is inevitable for the artists on the Waterpod to become part of an organism. Why was this important to you? Also organisms play a role in a physical environment, again, that notion of ‘place.’ How are the artists, as organisms, connected to that environment/place?

MM: Yes, I was referring specifically to our bodies partaking in a compact living system, where what we ate would directly affect the compost we made and the food we would grow the following season. But it could be a metaphor for many things, the energy of a living sculpture for example.