This exhibition draws on Bartol’s work with dowsing (she comes from a long line of water witches) and the history of dowsing in connection to mining/resource extraction. Specifically, Bartol researched Martine de Bertereau, one of the first (recognized) female mineralogists and mining engineers in 17th century France who traveled Europe in search of mineral deposits utilizing specialized divining instruments and other techniques including botany. Martine de Bertereau was accused of witchcraft and died in France while in prison. The story of de Bertereau is a complex one that points to the violence of resource extraction and the development of capitalism that she both participated in and was killed by. In her artwork, Bartol uses dowsing to ask audiences to reconsider consumption-driven relationships to the earth and what are known as 'natural resources'.
Alana Bartol comes from a long line of water witches. Her site-responsive works explore divination as a way of understanding across places, species, and bodies. Through collaborative and individual works, she creates relationships between the personal sphere and the landscape, particular to this time of ecological crisis. Of Scottish, German, English, French, Irish, and Danish ancestry, Bartol is a white settler Canadian currently living in Mohkínstsis (Calgary), Alberta where she is a sessional instructor at Alberta University of the Arts.
Alana Bartol, To Dig Holes and Pierce Mountains, Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, 2020. Photo: blkarts.ca