ENCOUNTERS // OCCASIONS // COHABITATION // DISCOVERIES
About the project
The Calgary communities of Sunnyside and Hillhurst are not suburbs encroaching on wildlife habitat at the edges of the city. Instead, they are long established neighbourhoods that have integrated relationship with the animal ecology of the area. As part of The City of Calgary Open AiR artist residency program we will research and develop new temporary public art processes and projects that investigate the deeply important interspecies relationships that occur within inner-city neighbourhoods. We are particularly interested in the different home and industry-based creative activities that residents and developers undertake that contributes to the engagement of the animal and insect population of the community. For instance, making bat boxes, bee hives, or birdhouses in a garage or basement is a form of crafting that ultimately becomes public in nature. Gardening for aesthetic purposes is a public good by attracting bees and butterflies that pollinate plants that feed us. Accidental public sculptures (piles of firewood behind garages, stacks of cinderblocks, and compost) become animal architecture—homes for mice and snakes. Architectural features such as fences and power lines cut across the community, but act as adopted transportation infrastructure for squirrels, birds, and cats. We are asking how do residents of Sunnyside and Hillhurst co-habitate with wild and domestic animals and insects? It is our hope to expand and challenge our community- specific public art practice by examining the relationship between human creativity in the public realm and animal ecology.
Finding Coyote: A Lecture by Shelley Alexander. October 3, 7:30pm
We invited U of C Dept. of Geography Professor Shelley Alexander to share her research about how Calgary coyotes survive in Calgary, and the nature of conflict with pets and people across Canadian cities. Shelley presented recent findings from the Foothills Coyote Initiative, which examines prevailing attitudes, values and concepts of space/place and explored how we might engage art and community to re-negotiate our relationships with coyote and together, co-flourish.
Animals After Dark: A Night Time Nature Walk
We wondered which animals inhabit our streets, parks, empty lots, alleys, and backyards after the sun goes down? To investigate, we invited residents to join us for a night-time nature walk to find out. We brought animal and insect guide books with us, a couple of flashlights, and we shared information amongst ourselves.
Photographs by Bryce Krynski
encounters // occasions // cohabitation // discoveries
With have been dressed as amateur naturalists for the better part of August and September. Our matching khaki jackets and navy blue hats (each embroidered with a different animal species) provides the pretence of authority as we move through the community. We are carrying clipboards with detailed maps that identify every residential and commercial property in the neighbourhood. We largely stick to sidewalks and alley ways, but our binoculars give us a close up view of different architectural features. We set out to map architecture and infrastructure that affects animals and insects in Sunnyside and Hillhurst. We found real and imagined spaces where non-human species are integrated into our communities or discouraged from being our neighbours. Beehives, birdhouses, breaches in buildings, open dumpsters, greens spaces, flower gardens, powerlines, piles of sticks, and stacked cinderblocks all create opportunities for cohabitation. Pigeon spikes, plastic owls, and automated sprinklers try to keep animals away. Here are a few of the maps we created.
Workshop: Mapping Co-habitation in Sunnyside and Hillhurst
How do we make and share space with our non-human neighbours? We invited residents participate in our encounters // occasions // cohabitation // discoveries process shown above. We set out to walk, find and record instances of habitecture.
Photographs by Bryce Krynski
This project is supported by The City of Calgary Open AiR artist residency program