in Situ Artist Statement

We both affect and are affected by the world in which we live. The land, the trees, the sky, the water. The people we are making of ourselves from the people we are and the people we have been…in situ.

From 1998-2001, I explored the connection between people and their environment which brought me to various regions of Canada, the United States, Cuba, Colombia and Peru. I chose to focus primarily on friends and members of my immediate and extended family scattered across the Americas, in order to emphasize the value of human connectedness.

As I set out on my journey, I was in search of what I thought might be a universal link among human souls as they exist in their respective places. I found a ubiquitous element in people despite their differences in culture and geography…we are all connected by a human spirit that speaks through attitudes and feelings. I encountered flashes of humanity; from harmony, fear, selfishness and wisdom to innocence, joy and sadness. Despite differences in circumstance we share a commonality that places us within the rhythm of the body in synchronicity with the rhythm of the natural world. I came to appreciate that the natural world consists of both flora and fauna and the natural way in which we have affected it.

My images combine organic tokens from the soils of the Americas with symbols of modern life. The natural world that changes more slowly and the fast-changing world we have constructed within it. These worlds are metaphors of our own existence, of the roots we lay down, rip up and attempt to plant again, of who and where we think we are, of who we might become and where we might be going. These photographs speak to our fragility. They celebrate our individuality and our community in a world that requires mutual support and social solidarity in order to be truly healthy and sustainable.

The interplay between people and nature is the strongest theme. The rhythm of the desert on a man’s back. A branch of leaves as homage to a young girl’s murdered friend. An Amazonian river rock carefully balanced between two lovers. Green balconies hanging over New York City as my niece Apolonia contemplates from her perch in the sky. The arrival of illegal aliens into a foreign – or not – land. The weight of the world on my cousin Juan Carlos as a storm looms in the distance. Licence plates, graffiti, totem poles…

Somehow our worlds are all connected. In what we are, in what is and what is yet to be. A massive tree with eons of roots in twisted majesty demonstrates how nature bares its history. Over time, we go from place to place and bare our own roots. In our hope, despair, reverence and acceptance we are joined with our past. In response to our world we are immersed in the present. Life transcends the obvious. In a moment of time, it provides a glimpse of a mysterious, perhaps even sacred place in the Americas, in the world. in situ.

Special thanks to The Canada Arts Council, David Bosschaart, William McCullough, Stephanie Pyne, Luis A. Abanto, laura jeanne lefave at DAïM0N, Rita Isztin, Valérie Yobé and Ben Pakuts.

Most special thanks to Fernando Castro R. who shared my vision and was vital to its realization.

Pedro Isztin