‘The artist considers a walk, or any type of site-specific interaction, as a means of archiving; presented as collections of carefully sculpted and polished found objects. Abigail Doan’s project Walking Libraries reveals still and sterile arrangements through which we get to read into a dynamic and natural process of documentation.
By contemplating the texture of a landscape and the specific elements of that particular space, the artist rebuilds a narrative that explore’s ones cooperation and confrontation with nature.’
– Radu Sticlea, curator [ Art Connect Magazine ]
This is honestly one of the best quotes that I have received regarding my studio work, or specifically my project Walking Libraries. Porto based curator, Radu Sticlea wrote this passage for an interview that I did with him for Art Connect in 2021.
Beyond Sticlea’s encapsulation of ideas related to my archiving and documentation process, the two words that stand out for me are: cooperation and confrontation. I have always imagined myself cooperating with nature, but the confrontation aspect of encountering and recording nature’s data points (and surrounding phenomena) — made me think again.
How much of these exploratory excursions are a confrontation with self, or one’s idea of how nature might be decoded or interpreted? What does one bring to the texture or otherness of a landscape when traversing terrain or moving through space?
I am reminded of a passage that I wrote during a residency long ago at THE LAND/an art site near rural Mountainair, New Mexico.
‘THE LAND’s acreage offers a vast tract of wilderness to survey when traversing the desert on foot under the shifting canopy of the central New Mexican skies. I was fortunate to have arrived at the site after a summer of significant rain and unexpected moisture. The color of the high desert vegetation was unusually brilliant and spiked with bold accents that animated the brush and ground cover everywhere.
THE LAND’s atmosphere is charged with opportunities for observation and introspection that are heightened by spatial and temporal isolation and the inevitable slowing of internal rhythms. The site allows for only intermittent reminders of the world beyond via the occasional plane overhead, the train that passes every hour, and the way that the distant world becomes an atmospheric, canopied layer over the fabric of one’s daily existence at the site.’
This gift of isolation during a remote residency allows one to essentially take a back seat, confront the chatter or impulses that arise when one assumes that they might easily decode a place or site and its complexities. The rebuilding of narratives, as Sticlea suggests, is perhaps what most informs process. Visual arrangements are evidence of what the materials dictate but in ways where the act of archiving might highlight how confrontation is essential to upending patterns of ‘still and sterile’ interpretation. As time passes, I feel as if this strategy is one that I need to adopt when interfacing with nature overall. Cooperation comes from confronting what one might need to let go of as a perforated view allows for new information and imaginings to pass through.