Description of The Landscape Tale from Agriculture: An Alchemical Treatise
The installation at 911 consisted of five windows, arranged symmetrically, with prints of traditional landscape paintings reproduced and framed at viewer's eye level. Superimposed over each is a reproduction of an historic urban map, printed on transparent polyester/acetate film and attached to the windows. These constructions relate in time and space: a painting of the Hudson River School is superimposed by a grid of early 19th century Washington DC; a Constable appears beneath a map of late 18th century London; a Corot is covered by a map of 18th century Paris, and a Ruisdael is arranged beneath a grid of Amsterdam dated 1760. Surrounding the painting reproductions are quotations from literary texts both contemporary and antecedent to the work of art. In the center window the quotations continue above jars of dormant seeds: included are green manures, to fertilize the soil over the winter, including fava beans, vetch and crimson clover.
Inside, resources are arranged on a table are for visitors' perusal. Some of these include descriptions of programs and contact phone numbers of resources in Seattle, such as the food banks, composting and recycling advocates and stream restoration efforts. There are pamphlets and flyers for personal use; books and booklets are for reference. There is note paper and space on the bibliography pamphlet for notes. Additionally, there are seeds, envelopes and labels for visitors to take home a scoop of green manure seeds for their own gardens or other open spaces.
"...To think about distant places, to colonize them, to populate or depopulate them: all of this occurs on, about, or because of land. The actual geographical possession of land is what empire in the final analysis is all about. At the moment when a coincidence occurs between real control and power, the idea of what a given place was (could be, might become), and an actual place--at that moment the struggle for empire is launched."
--Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism, 1993
"The idea that the arts of fortification and landscape architecture were almost the same was quite a logical one in the seventeenth century. Together, they shaped a new architecture, an earth-moving art in which, at the scale of the landscape itself, the human will reached out to control the environment farther than human beings had ever been able to reach before."
--Vincent Scully, Architecture: The Natural and the Manmade, 1991
"...He had been visiting a friend in a neighbouring county, and that friend having recently had his grounds laid out by an improver, Mr. Rushworth was returned with his head full of the subject, and very eager to be improving his own place in the same way;...."
"...Now at Sotherton, we have a good seven hundred [acres] without reconing the water meadows,; so that I think, if so much could be done at Compton, we need not despair. There have been two or three fine old trees cut down that grew too near the house, and it opens the prospect amazingly, which makes me think that Repton, or anybody of that sort, would certainly have the avenue at Sotherton down; the avenue that leads from the west front to the top of the hill you know,...."
--Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814
"...The foundation of empire is art and science. Remove them or degrade them, and the empire is no more. Empire follows art and not vice versa, as Englishmen suppose."
--William Blake, cited in Culture and Imperialism, Edward W. Said
"...If you work with nature, you can't claim property rights. If you take something away from nature, you state property rights. The act of removal thus becomes the act of owning, and it is for the ability to remove, separate, and fragment that capital depends on science-based technologies. However, ownership through removal and mixing with labor denies that in situ existence there has been prior labor. There is no clear divide between nature and labor in the cultivated seed. What the industrializing vision sees as nature is other people's social labor, and that it wants to denigrate. It defines that labor into non-labor, into biology, into nature. And defines both nature and women's labor and Third World labor into passivity.
--Vandana Shiva, The Politics of Diversity, 1991
"Now my co-mates and brothers in exile,
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods
More free from peril than the envious court?
Here feel we not the penalty of Adam,
The season's difference, as the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter's wind,
Which when it bites and blows upon my body
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile, and say
'This is no flattery. These are counsellors
That feelingly persuade me what I am.'...
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
--William Shakespeare, speech of Duke Senior, As You Like It, II.i.1-17
"The heavenly gift of honey from the air
Is next my theme. Look kindly on this, too,
Maecenas. I will show you a spectacle
To marvel at, a world in miniature,
Gallant commanders and the institutions
Of a whole nation, its character, pursuits,
Communities and warfare...."
--Virgil, Book Four, the Georgics
"The clearing of parks as 'Arcadian' prospects depended on the completed system of exploitation of the agricultural and genuinely pastoral lands beyond the park boundaries. There, too, an order was being imposed: social and economic but also physical
. . . . Indeed, it can be said of these eighteenth-century arranged landscapes not only, as is just, that this was the high point of agrarian bourgeois art, but that they succeeded in creating in the land below their windows and terraces:
. . . a rural landscape emptied of rural labour and of labourers;
. . .the expression of control and of command
. . . . But it is a commanding prospect that is at the same time a triumph of unspoiled nature: this is the achievement: an effective and still imposing mystification."
--Raymond Williams, The Country and the City, 1973
© Alice Dubiel 1996. Any commercial use or distribution of these images without the expressed permission of Alice Dubiel is forbidden by law. Photographed by Alice Dubiel.