River Relations: A Beholder's Share of the Columbia River 


River Relations: A Beholder's Share of the Columbia River is an interdisciplinary artistic research project undertaken as a response to the extensive damming of the Columbia River in British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, and the upcoming renegotiation of the Columbia River Treaty. The river’s fourteen dams are heralded for massive energy production and agricultural irrigation; however, they have also incurred significant environmental costs and impacted communities in surrounding watershed regions. Approaching the dams as both cultural phenomena and as a metaphor for large-scale intervention into nature, River Relations responds aesthetically to the complex character, cultural significance and ecology of the Columbia River landscape over time. Synthesizing our own experiences of sites along the river with analyses of diverse contemporary and historical research material, we aim to enter the space between official and unofficial discourses, a complex and contested space where creative approaches can open possibilities for consideration. How does this regional geography emblemize broader issues of ethical watershed governance, indigenous non-indigenous and trans-border relationships, and regional, national and global futures in relation to energy production? How can creative work play a role in expressing the significance of competing human values over water and land? River Relations seeks to contribute to this dialogue through visual art, writing and public engagement.