Some of the fun of rout/e is that many things are left unexplained. Elements of each planting remain to be seen. I do like an un-ending
But, lately, there is Cecilie Bjørgäs Jordheim’s enjoyable and intriguing “Black Walnut Grove” project — a series of blank, handwritten, scores (sheet music) — planted in late February at the black walnut grove (tucked within the acreage of the strangely perplexed and beautiful Kemptville campus of the old University of Guelph land). A query in late fall 2016 to derek beaulieu regarding replanting pieces at the black walnut grove to focus on the act(ings/ions) of conversation, resulted in his suggestion of Cecilie’s work; derek kindly acted as a liaison between us; she sent him her “Black Walnut Grove” pieces, and he forwarded them onward via snail mail (along with a lovely package of no press work by Jordan Abel and a few others). In 2014, I had used the black walnut grove to plant three separate rows of work by derek beaulieu, Monty Reid, and Sandra Ridley. On one of my recent ventures to the grove, I uncovered one of beaulieu’s pieces buried by leaf litter as I was kneeling to take a picture of one of Jordheim’s pieces; a few of Ridley’s are also still quite evident, in another row.
Jordheim’s hand-drawn pieces came in the form of ten, singular, beige notecards of slightly thicker stock, labelled “black walnut grove 1 movement” and onward, to 10. Jordheim’s scores, articulated as movements, fit perfectly into a site that is mostly abandoned by humans but is an access point by air, land and water for multiples of other species. While much of the focus could be on the physical movements and placings within this space, its abandoned nature, combined with the careful initial planning and placement of the nut grove between cedar hedges, makes it a conceptual and real auditorium for the variations of sound that can be heard here throughout the year. Conversation is constant and unwritten.
Jordheim is a versatile artist with a concrete thoughtfulness behind her work. From her website (worthwhile to go through):
Through installations, visual scores and concrete poetry, Jordheim’s work springs from an interdisiplinary agenda; between genres, fields of art and medium, and the thesis that all visual has sound. Jordheim thematizes the human need for systematization and questions if there a direct connection between language and the world; topography, typography, text, architecture and sound/music. The scores are often frame work for a collaboration with musicians, where the outcome is in the translation between the visual and the musical improvisation.
It was advantageous, in retrospect, to plant these pieces in late February because the transition from winter to spring in this region of Ontario can be quite lengthy and dramatic. This year, we experienced multiple snow storms, accompanied by freezing rain and high winds, fluctuating rain storms, and days of increased heat that resulted in melt and run-off with little moisture absorption by the ground (which was still frozen). The effect on these pieces, not sheltered by laminate (as the previous plantings were), was extreme — some pieces were little changed, others became blanks with only Jordheim’s label evident (in faded form), others vanished, blown or eaten. To extend the notion of conversation and score, and to play a bit with the idea of “marking” sound with ephemeral components of physical entities (weather), as well as unknown markers (e.g. species), I added sheets of carbon paper to the back of each movement and placed them against cardboard squares. This created three layers: Jordheim’s movement, carbon paper, cardboard. The wind and rain, working against the surfaces of Jordheim’s work, marked vertical lines (bar-lines) of variable thickness and imprint on the cardboard. In one case, an animal got hold of one of the pieces of cardboard; I found the cardboard under a cedar hedge with a few holes and marks in it.
Each piece was planted in row one of the grove. Not all of the trees have a metal placard in front, the pieces are planted 1-6, then a two-tree “caesura” or break, followed by 7-10. Movements 7 and 10 have become lost; missing movements. Paperclips and double sided 3M tape were used to fasten the pieces to the metal placards; they needed to be stuck on and clipped because of the frigid winter temperatures.These pieces may be taken down in early May and/or another series may be added to them. In a lovely gesture of irony, the black walnut grove is one of several groves in the region planted by ECSONG, even if this one is largely forgotten, other than by locals.