TESTLANDKnowledge 2011
LAND KNOWLEDGE is a social, performance and visually art project that speaks to local desert dilemmas. Over the past 100 years the American Western Desert regions have witnessed massive population growth which has resulted in a stripping and transplanting of native ecological landscape leaving behind a checkerboard of dead and vacant lots stretching across western cities like Phoenix, Arizona. LAND KNOWLEDGE questions what we forfeit when our knowledge of native desert ecology is sacrificed.

In August 2011, an exhibitionary component of LANDKnowledge was created to engage the urban Phoenix community and call the community to action. Utilizing the traditional artists tools and the techniques of social art practice, LANDKnowledge used a fine art gallery setting to distribute prickly pear cactus pads to community participants. The prickly pear cactus pads were stacked and placed on pedestals as sculptural displays, transforming the pads into objects of art. Each pad carried a hand-sewn tag, which later would be numbered for documentation purposes. By transforming the cactus pads into objects of art the cactus pads are awarded a value absent in many social environments.

Being an art minded project, LANDKnowledge utilized traditional artist tools of community assembly to engagement the resident of Phoenix - an art Exhibition. LANDKnowledg used the fine art gallery setting to distribute cactus pads to the community. Spread out through gallery were white pedestals with cactus resting sculpturally. By transforming the cactus pads into art objects value is added to the plant which is consider to be a weed by some.

During the four hour exhibit 81 cacti pad were distributed through a check process which asked residents of Phoenix, Arizona to: 1) actively engage in an ecological interventions to reclaim a native ecology. 2) to planting of nopal cactus in vacant public space in the urbanized settings. 3) To document the process of planting and location of the plantings. LANDKnowledge is current digitally mapping the location and documentation of the planting for a future harvest process. Currently over 40 cacti have been planted by members of the Phoenix community. Documentation of the planting process continue to be shared.

Community Generated Documentation. More here.

For 1000s of years in the Sonoran desert region and beyond, the nopal cactus - prickly pear - has served as a source of: food, medicine, intoxicant, dye, mythology, and even water purification. Today while the nopal cactus can survive with little or no human care in our desert regions, the significance and uses of the plant are largely unknown to much of the Phoenix population. As a sustainability movement sweeps through the hearts and minds of western culture, Project LANDKnowledge challenges us to consider how indigenous ecological and cultural practice can inform our progress.

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