"Gather Wood, Gather Words,
What goes up in Smoke"
Allard Pierson Museum of
Mediterranean Antiquities 2014.
“Gather Wood, Gather Words” began with an art/anthropology project on issues of work and gender, from research on women laboring to gather wood to warm their cook fires in rural Morocco. Their work contributes to deforestation, increasing the long treks they make to assure their families’ survival. Attending to the bundles of branches that are the fruit of this “fieldwork” I noticed other women nearby who etched the landscape by gathering grain. They too gathered the fruit of their work with twine; the wood and grain was shaped into a belted, feminine form. Reflections on the cyclical nature of women’s’ work led to recall the poetry and songs and stories people share as they as they labor. Like the wood they gather, these words are impermanent. Like the grain that must be sown anew each year, these words are impermanent but the flow of words is renewed by successive generations. Bundles of sticks with axe heads on each end form the Roman fasces, a weapon and a symbol of justice and power.