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Cul-de-sac

Isabelle Hayeur, Uprooted (still), 2012. High definition video. Art Gallery of Alberta Collection, gift of the Artist.

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A cul-de-sac is a road with one way out, or a dead end. The direct translation as “bottom of the sack” is a more nuanced cul-de-sac: the remnant shards, fractured from the shale in the sack, impart an opportunity. The particles at the bottom might be ground into another surface or combust into something completely new. 

Human effects on the land, including rampant urban development and carbon emissions, lack the tooth of change, relegating any sense of abatement into a corner. Perhaps a cul-de-sac dead end of its own making, questions arise about how value is measured, what relationship price has with making future, and—future for whom? 

The exhibition is a play between two cul-de-sacs: one as a dead end, the other revealing possibility. The works of Christoph Gielen and Isabelle Hayeur question our assumptions about growth, mounting a disconnect between urban habitat and our responsibility to the natural environment. What can be gleaned from the work of Douglas Cardinal is a way forward, a planning process based on Indigenous values of living in harmony with the environment and connected to a deeper universe. What future is created when design is obliged to consider seven generations forward? What opens up with models of matriarchal understanding? And, how might market-based and sustainable design practices learn from the tenants of natural law? 

Organized by the Art Gallery of Alberta. Curated by Amery Cavelli. Presented as a part of the Poole Centre of Design.

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