Jessica Houston

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This Mountain

This exhibition of chine-colle prints, paintings, and a sound sculpture portrays aspects of the ecosystem and geopolitics of the Arctic. In 2015, I visited Baffin Island, which inspired this project based on the environmental and cultural impacts of the extraction of its resources. The mine at Mary River in North Baffin Island in the Qikiqtani Region of Nunavut, Canada, is one of the largest iron ore deposits in the world. During this trip, an Inuit elder told me in a conversation about the landscape of the mine, “This mountain will soon be gone...” The mountain is not a static thing but an ongoing process of creation—or destruction. These works ask viewers to engage with natural processes of growth and decay, the slow build-up of a form over time, and its sudden erasure. The chine-collé prints prints fuse my photographs of Baffin Island with colored paper, revealing what is extracted and what remains. The paintings are made by exerting forceful actions referring to forces of nature on their surface. The sound sculpture turns an iron ore stone into a ‘speaker’ projecting recordings of Deanna Panipakoocho singing a ‘return of the sun’ song, and several other voices from interviews with residents of Baffin Island; it was made in collaboration with Aileen Hope, Chris Idlaut, Mary Ipeelie, Ruby Katsak, Kitty Komangapik, Deanna and Elijah Panipakoocho.