As artists interested in ideas of contested territories in more than human worlds, we had initially planned to apply for the NEA/NPS call for applications, Imagine Your Parks.
We share an interest in the legacies of land surveys and their photographic and painterly representations in North America. For example, Krista made leveling rods that re-imagine those from a 1918 photo depicting an all-female survey crew and Trudi reenacted colonial archives to consider conditions under which photographs are produced and how these limit other possibilities for life.
We came together believing that we would apply for the official call. And then we quickly realized that we were ineligible.
So IOP began as a response to the US’s National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Parks Service’s call for artist projects to celebrate 50 years of arts funding in the US and the centenary of federally protected parks. The call for applications was complex and confirmed to us some of the challenges of thinking about ‘public arts’ and ‘public lands’ as phenomena. We immediately came up against the questions: Who gets access to public funding for the arts? What is ‘public land’ and who can access them, for what activities? Who or what counts and who or what becomes excluded?
We launched a counter project.