Human Nature Collective includes artists: Theo Pelmus, Kris Snowbird, Daina Warren
Location: Pine Creek First Nation, Manitoba (Kris Snowbird’s Home Reserve)
Videographer: Robert Snowbird
Date: June 20, 2021 – Performance for the Camera
What defines a human being is the process of labour — labour and the ethics of labour is the skin of our actions. A simple action of cutting a tree or making a fire start having significance through performance as a humble action. As a result of this interplay, there is poetry in the performative action. Human Nature Collective chose to place the fire onto the unsupportive, conflictive element of water, and conceptually the action of placing the fire onto the water speaks about the resilience of human nature. When fire touches the water there is a conflict, and that inner conflict, that battle between opposites, creates the intensity of fire: water, the natural and supernatural coexist in this dichotomous realm.
This action of making a fire requires sacrificing a tree, the one who removes through decapitation of the tree must wear a mask. The mask is based on Romanian folk masks and serves as a barrier between the living and the dead. The two women escorting the firewood to the water signifies the pure soul and mourning the tree’s beauty: the branches, the long-gone leaves, the sky that surrounded the tree and the ground that once fed the tree through water extracted by its roots — long, deep, succumbed veins. Symbolically the tree returns back to its source of life, the lake. The essence of the tree then becomes our art piece, our honoring to the land: