Manda Remmen artist
These series, Perspective Maps, Stolen Ground, and Decor, focus on the occupation of land and the remnants of colonialism by concentrating on the naming and claiming steps. These artworks document where people occupy and interact in space as well as their greater community and culture.
The Perspective Maps, created by embroidering, a process stereotypically female, renders a description of a place, land, typically thought of as a patriarchal inheritance. These images are inspired by the grandiose paintings of the Rocky Mountain School and yet are snapshot sized, both sublime and tiny. The subject of these small and colorful works is the control that colonialism and patriarchy desire of both women and the land. The scenes are pastoral and beautiful, each with a visible mark of mankind recording the alteration and piecing of the landscape, illustrating something so beautiful as both natural and unnatural at once.
The Stolen Ground series highlights the commodification of land and the colonization of America. The remnants of colonialism are still evident, even romanticized, in our culture. For this series, I collect physical dirt without permission; I then inventory, catalog, and display it using period-specific bottles. Each bottle includes a label that visually references scientific collections, with data that is both factual and made up listing: the Native American tribal name in the native language, the colonizer’s name for the tribe, the zoning code, the soil type, the land value, and the collection date, as well as the GPS coordinates. The bottles are displayed on shelves and bases, painted with name brand paint purchased at hardware stores and intended for household use. The name of the paint color and the titles of the pieces highlight romanticized colonial terminology, terminology that is pervasive and often part of the site name already. The selected locations are places that are marked and marketed using nostalgia to romanticize American colonial history. The viewer must look past the shiny and beautiful glass and the classifications on the label, displayed on this season’s newest color, to see dirt.
Decor shows the language used in colonization inside domestic walls. In the process of colonizing, naming comes directly after claiming and allows us to glorify and romanticize our place in history. Printed large on the color swatches are the names of the paint colors followed in a smaller text by a dictionary definition of the word. The font used in the series is named Decor and the slightly rough tiles show a DIY aesthetic so often used to create a cutesy facade. Presented in groupings like decorator color swatches, each swatch is the same size, so the individual has the power to rearrange the swatches to form phrases out of the paint names that reference the signal phrasing used in decoration and domestic space-making. To decorate a domestic space is to perform and project a particular, desired personality.
As in culture, in these objects everything is intentional: the materials used, the information and particles collected, the names of the sites, paint, and materials, and the processes used to create them. These series aim to highlight the continued, pervasive presence of colonialism in the landscape we inhabit, from the ground we walk on to the interior of our own homes.
“The intersections of nature, culture, history, and ideology form the ground on which we stand—our land, our place. . .”-Lucy Lippard, The Lure of the Local
Lippard, Lucy R. The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society. New York: New, 1997. Print. 7