Free Land, 2013 [Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid]
Maggie Groat - St. Catharines, Canada
Free Land, 2013
60 - Simcoe Park, 270 Front Street West
FREE LAND activates the marginalized green space of Simcoe Park as a site for temporary occupation
and collective intervention through the excavation and dispersal of public soil. The park is located
along what was once the original shoreline of Lake Ontario, and aptly named for John Graves Simcoe, one
of the major developers of early Canada. The built environs of the park resemble nothing of its indigenous
roots, and its recent history is one of landfill, concrete and urban development. FREE LAND wonders:
What are the implications of relocating and repurposing land? How do the lasting impacts of settler-colonialism
and associated attitudes surrounding land use and the commodification of natural resources affect the
places we live? Are civic spaces really ours?
From sunset to sunrise, a hole will be dug in this small city park and what is uncovered will be made
available for relocation and repurposing. Taking away small parcels of this liberated soil, participants
are entrusted with the removed land and agree to become the stewards of both its history and future potentiality.
The resulting vacant space in the ground will ultimately be filled with 'new' purchased soil, rendering
the marks of this gesture invisible, as the traces of it live on elsewhere.
Maggie Groat works in a variety of media including sculpture, collage, site-specific interventions and field studies.
Forming an ongoing research-based practice, Groat's work explores studies for possible futures, the interdisciplinary
potential of artistic envisioning, salvage practices, and relationships and reconnections to place and ancient
knowledge systems from an Indigenous perspective. She is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Guelph (2010).