The Distance Between Two Points is Measured in Memories, Labrador 1988

A series of 18 assemblages.
medium: each assemblage includes 2 black & white photographs and one story panel, selenium-toned silver prints; a memory map drawn by a participant, pencil on paper; and most include a found natural object from the site.
works from the series are in the following collections: Canada Council Art Bank; Department of Foreign Affairs, Government of Canada; Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Provincial Art Bank; MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Oakville Galleries; The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery, St. John's; Dalhousie Art Gallery, Halifax.

I have been working on the relationship between human experience and the landscape. For the past 10 years I have worked in remote areas where most of my projects and landworks were related to the "natural" aspects of the sites. Then I became interested in what we would call the "cultural": the people who have lived closest to these places. I began to understand that there are certain things about their lives which are being left behind — certain things that matter to them, their experiences of the world which are so different from my own. From these encounters with elderly country people I developed the works which are titled The Distance Between Two Points is Measured in Memories.

These assemblages include a photograph of the person, some of the story they told me (in their own words), and a "memory map" they drew for me of how they remember their environment. I follow these maps to see the places they have described, and then photograph one of the landmarks on the map and collect, where appropriate, an object from the landscape. The most recent assemblages are from northern Labrador where I met elderly people from the three different groups who live there: the native Inuit and Naskapi Innu, and the Euro-Canadians who are called Settlers in Labrador.

Most of their stories (native and Settlers) revolve around a sadness at the loss of nature in their lives, now that they live in communities. The increasing urbanization of the world worries me and it was in meeting these people that I got the greatest sense that something has been lost in the way we live now. I don't want to suggest that their lives are romantic; no one would wish that traditional peasant life continue exactly as it was. But these people make sense of their place in nature.

It seems to me now that the ideological distinctions we (western industrial society) have made between nature and culture have separated us from the non-human part of the world, reinforcing the idea that nature exists separate from us. This has brought me to the belief that there needs to be a re-connection between what is experienced as culture and what is experienced as nature.

Marlene Creates, 1989

A publication of the complete series is available:
The Distance Between Two Points is Measured in Memories, Labrador 1988