Queering the Dams

A collection of experimental video arrangements featuring prOphecy sun moving through and interacting with the dams of the Kootenay River. At first sight, one cannot help but be struck by the alignment of the dams and transmission lines—standing in rows, hugging tree lines, rocks, and the river with massive concrete arms spread open. They appear to be holding up the world and vast amounts of moving energy. We understand dams as protectors and symbols of progress: continually in flux, bursting, storing, blocking, channeling, creating, powering, and preserving our existing realities against flooding and drought.

At times, the dams feel like kin, family, old lovers; we take their water, wash, drink, mix, and make our lives with parts of them. We overuse their gifts, forget their presence, and ignore their majestic countenance and steady departures.

Throughout the work, we see prOphecy inserting herself into the landscape, manipulating a large, fluid plastic shape as she navigates the shoreline and causeway of the dams. Reminiscent of the water alternately captured and flowing nearby, the movements change from a struggle to a flow and back again; revealing the inherent tension in the idea of dams. The sense of scale shifts with changing viewpoints of the massive infrastructure. These are fundamentally enormous structures, yet the simple act of intentionally being there performing an artistic intervention challenges the conceptual framework that underpins industrial development.

While the dams are historically well documented, there remains an absence of creative and speculative works that account for ecofeminist perspectives about these projects. Video installation asks the viewer for a different kind of attention; it requires you to spend some time immersed in the work, outside of regular reality. Each video arrangement highlights ecological acts of care, moving imagery, performance, sonic compositions, and a textual manifesto; melding landscape, body, and technology in new speculative and hybrid ways.

Queering the Dams exhibition catalogue [pdf]

artist prOphecy sun
videography prOphecy sun and Reese Muntean
sound composition, video editing prOphecy sun

acknowledgements This research would not have been possible without the generous and kind support of the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance (CKCA) 2020–2021 Major Projects Award, on behalf of the Columbia Basin Trust, Gallery 2, Tim van Wijk, Darren Fleet, Reese Muntean, and the traditional territories of the Sinixt peoples of British Columbia.