Land Claim, DVD, 4 minutes 45 seconds, Ed. 5 + 1AP, 2006
Land Claim is a response to the aggressive land development in the American suburbs. I lived in DuPage County, Illinois, 36 miles west of Chicago, for almost 4 years. My wife, her parents and I shared a house in a suburban subdivision built on land that had been farmland just a few years earlier. While we lived there, I could see the land being quickly taken over by new construction in the endless hunger for space that accompanies the "American Dream" of reproduction and house ownership. I saw companies drive bulldozers across fields, stripping them of their topsoil in order to insert poorly-made pre-fabricated houses and generic architecture. Never did the buildings' design acknowledge pre-existing local landscape or traditions. I thought about people in other cultures who might believe in spirits of the land. Such people might show respect to the earth spirits before settling in a new place. I wondered if such spirits might exist in this place - if so, I imagined their anger at human hubris.
The video shows me in the role of such an earth spirit. At a site in DuPage County, the viewer sees a paper map of DuPage County, a visualization of the human will to control. The earth spirit devours this map to reclaim the site and return the land to its ground state, erasing all trace of human presence. "Dust to dust," accelerated.