June 25, 2017.
What is striking about the Estate and its 450 acres of land is that it continues to exist within the largest metropolitan area of South East Florida. Imagine, a property bordering the Biscayne Bay that will not be transformed by developers, will not be parcelled in lots, will not become the site of towers and condos. The preserve forms a natural baseline of the environment bequeathed to future generations by Charles Deering. This Miami-Dade Park is a living museum, time capsule and proof of what was there before the city of Miami grew up to surround the estate. The forward thinking of the Park’s administration includes on-going recreational programs for all ages and interests. From our perspective as Artists / Writers, we explored many cultural, historic and natural areas found on site. The material that we gathered forms the base of our current work and is inspiring the directions that future installations of OASIS: Visible / Invisible will take.
While in residence, we got out to record material through video, sound, and photographs. At the end of each day, we downloaded and logged our digital files. Throughout the process, we made notes and wrote our observations while piecing together impressions of various unique locations within the Estate. We were given the use of a studio facing Charles Deering’s Stone House, the Richmond Cottage, and pathways around these landmarks led onto the iconic Boat Basin on Biscayne Bay. While the site is famous as the postcard setting for this 450-acre preserve, its historic buildings, fossil sites, ancient burial grounds and archival records inspire many mysteries. At first, we got out on naturalist-guided trails. Throughout the month, we made return visits to specific sites and gathered multiple recordings. We posted daily photographic highlights onto the OASIS working site. Since returning to our home studio in Moncton, NB Canada, we refer back to the site while developing the project.
In March, before leaving New Brunswick for the residency, we were invited by Kim Yantis-Stycharski, Cultural Arts Curator of the Deering Estate, to present work in the Deering Estate Spring Contemporary Exhibition: Platform 450. Once onsite and working, we decided on presenting two photographs documenting our explorations of the Deering Rock Pinelands site and in-progress video clips featuring a blue figure set in various locations. We also screened our video short, Cultural Flotsam. Created in 2016, the video is based on a contemplation of ecological concerns. We received positive feedback from many colleagues during the opening of the exhibition and since then. The exhibition Platform 450 will continue to be open to the public daily through to June 26.
The actual location and circumstances change the preconceptions whenever you arrive into a new cultural setting. A month can seem like a good length of stay, but the time can melt very quickly. With that in mind, we set out a fairly rigorous timetable of objectives and adapted it when mysteries of the location and alternate concerns arose. We are now piecing together writing, visual and audio elements that will make up OASIS: Visible / Invisible. We are planning to return to the Deering Estate in October to pick up additional recordings that we were not able to get during the month of April.
Prior to the opening of Platform 450, we had an interview with Cathy Byrd of Fresh Art International on April 12. Here is the address to a radio interview she published with reference to our project. We are specifically mentioned from 19:20 – 20:10.