Introducing River

Before this all gets too confusing, I should say that this River is our new dog, named after we spent a holiday by/in the River Dart in Devon.

I wrote a post on my general blog in July, which shared how my dog Moshi had passed on after 16 years of being a much loved famiy pet and walking companion. I’ve missed having a canine collaborator and am looking forward to River being able to join me on my Queer River walks.

At the moment she’s only 10 weeks old, so we have 3 more weeks of her being carried rather than walking, but before long we will be exploring new stretches of the River Avon together.

Finding The Source

As I start this new research project drawing on my experiences of the Hampshire Avon, both walking alone and with others, I am also drawing on previous work carried out in collaboration with US based artist Kathy Skerritt.

Please take a look at this earlier post from my general arts blog, ‘Finding The Source’, written about a walk that I took as part of my ongoing collaboration with Kathy, with the intention of finding the source of the River Avon, and my gradual realisation that there was/is no fixed beginning or end.

‘How to Queer Ecology…’

How to Queer Ecology: One Goose at a Time by Alex Johnson

‘Where is the line between what is Nature and what is Human? Do I spend equal times in the parking lot and the forest? Can I really say the parking lot is separate from the forest? What if I end up staying in the parking lot the whole time? What if it has been a long drive and I really have to pee?

The problem is, the Nature/Human split is not a split. It is a dualism. It is false.

I propose messing it up. I propose queering Nature…

A queer ecology is a liberatory ecology. It is the acknowledgment of the numberless relations between all things alive, once alive, and alive once again. No man can categorize those relations without lying. Categories offer us a way of organizing our world. They are tools. They are power.’

Why Queer?

In my naming of this piece of research, it’s not so much that I am calling the river itself Queer, but my orientation towards it:

‘To queer something is to take a look at its foundations and question them…’

Charlie Glickman- Queer is a Verb

I want to explore how we can alter our perceptions of and relationship to rivers, through dialogical, visual arts practice. By walking with the river, including the organisms that live within it and the people that live and work along it, I aim to inform my understanding of the role that we can play (both humans and non-humans) within the riverine ecosystems of the future.

My thinking about and relationship to the word Queer is further explored in a recent article that I wrote for the Climate Cultures blog. Please follow the link below the quote to read the full article:

‘What I have come to realise is that being Queer is not about being defined by others as Other, but refusing to be colonised or domesticated. It is about being yourself in spite of the restrictions you may face, a self that you discover through relationship with others. In this way I see it as closely related to (Re)wilding, whereby if the right conditions are put in place, the land begins to heal itself, bringing health to it and to us.’

A Queer Path to Wellbeing – James Aldridge, July 2020