Linda Duvall (she/her) is a visual artist based on Treaty 6 land near Saskatoon, Canada. Her hybrid practice addresses themes of connection to place, grief and loss, and the many meanings of exclusion and absence. Her work speaks to the nature of interpersonal relationships, particularly as they are enacted through conversation. Her usual artistic tools are photography, video, writing, and performative responses to situations.
Duvall has completed degrees in Sociology and English (Carleton University) and Visual Arts (OCAD University, University of Michigan, Plymouth University), and is currently a Professional Affiliate at University of Saskatchewan. Her work has been exhibited locally, nationally and internationally, including exhibitions in Guatemala, Ireland, Barcelona, Shanghai, Slovenia, London, Dubai and various kinds of places and spaces across Canada.
My practice is based on the process of paying focused and caring attention to the minute details of the people and spaces around me. Earlier projects have often involved inviting people into specific spaces with me to complete tasks together, or to respond to certain situations.
For the last several years, I have worked along 2 different directions. One approach consisted of a series of large projects that existed at the intersection of collaboration, performance, and conversation. These projects included Where Were their Mothers? (2009), The Toss (2012), We Burrowers (2015) and The Unacknowledged (2016).
During this same time I was spending extensive solitary time on the 80 acres of land where I live south of Saskatoon, responding to this unique sandy prairie environment with a series of private gestures and personal responses. Part of this process was the act of taking a radically different approach to artmaking outside of my comfort realm. Some actions were practical and potentially useful, like the planting of 14,000 trees. Others were more ephemeral and seemingly futile, such as lighting birthday candles embedded in snow, or stroking every sage plant emerging out of the snow.
A recent project The Hole Residency (2017) merged these 2 directions: I invited 45 different people to come to a 6-foot deep hole on this same property and spend 6 hours in the hole with me – one person a day. We were surrounded by walls of sand with roots of native prairie grasses dangling above, and by silence except for the wind above, swallows nesting in the walls, and any conversation that emerged. Each person considered the hole within various frameworks including scientific, geologic, biologic, historic, or other. We read out loud, hummed to the walls, talked, observed the birds, shared stories, laughed, cried, were silent and often all of the above.
I scurried back to this same land when Covid 19 struck. It has been a site of retreat, grief, joy, trauma and most recently self-isolation. I felt immediate relief in arriving in this space of safety, distant from even any neighbours.
This time has taken a definite turn from all other projects mainly because of the pandemic requirements. I found myself with no human collaborators. From day one of quarantine, I began walking the land for 2 – 3 hours every day with my camera in hand. The land became my collaborator and my confidant. I kept waiting for a message about when I should stop walking around the land. But that message hasn’t come. I have arbitrarily decided that I would continue documenting my walks for one year, ending mid-March 2021. I have no idea yet if or how I will work with this years’ worth of material, but the process is crucial for me.