WITHOUT A TRACE

A collective art-action under the midnight sun in Iceland, July 1999. Nine artists, Quebecois and Icelandic, walked for twelve days in the heart of this country, with the intention to be open to the land, and in this spirit, to leave as little trace as possible.

Photos: Julie Durocher, Tedi Tafel

I longed to feel anonymous: as if I were neither from here nor from there. I wanted to be reminded again of the planetary rock, of our greater context. I chose to walk the land dressed in a particular way. Like on a pilgrimage, but with no particular destination but to be present to the journey. I chose simple dark clothing as a shifting boundary between inner and outer—a long black cotton skirt, a black woolen vest, black gloves and a large black headscarf. An invitation to an intimate narrative between myself and the land. A simple gesture that marked the passage from one world to another, a personal signal that allowed me to imagine an alliance with women walking elsewhere.

In my journal I wrote: “I wear black like silence and waiting. I walk surrounded by silence. I wait surrounded by silence, by mute mountains and creeping glaciers… I walk and wait on the rims of cliffs, at the edges of swift rivers, at the foot of an immense stone, in the middle of infinite expanses… Wearing this long dark skirt has something to do with how I enter the space and witness it. I hear my breath and the wind…yes, the wind, not like back home in the Laurentian mountains where it constantly whispers and whistles through the trees. Here, the wind rushes over the land, through my clothes, around my ears. It blows my skirt in all directions, flaps my scarf, pushes and pulls me. It fills the silence…and I am simply a woman wearing black in July in the heart of Iceland, in the time of no-night, no-blackness. I look into the plunging ravines, into the matrix of earthy folds...I feel the land shaping my sense of self…I am minute in this vastness…“