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Performance Walk

November 27, 2022

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Raymond Taavel Park, Barrington Street, Halifax, NS, Canada

In Person Only; On paved surfaces.

This session is an annotated walk that will present a nuanced reading of the urban geography of Halifax’s Freshwater Brook. It will be a temporal, multisensory and participatory counter-memorial to an obscure and complex site. Still present, Freshwater Brook is no longer visible, and which will be further submerged due to climate change. Littoral Futures: Freshwater Brook is a creative elegy for a lost geography that will be lost again.

Climate modelling predicts that many areas of the littoral shoreline around Kjipuktuk (Halifax harbour) will be submerged in the near future due to ocean expansion and sea level rise associated with climate change. Littoral zones are the transitional part of a sea, lake, or river where the water and land meet, a unique and sensitive ecological environment extending from the highwater mark to areas that are permanently submerged. These sites are diverse habitats that mitigate the destructive forces of storm surges and flooding. In urban settings such as port cities, infrastructure such as wharves, piers, docks, dykes, sea walls and breakwaters are built to regulate the littoral shore. In current understanding, the preservation, restoration and protection of littoral zones are considered necessary in achieving environmental sustainability.

The south end of Halifax near the corner of Barrington and Inglis Streets is located in the flood zone projected in the climate models. An ancient and invisible feature of this particular site is Freshwater Brook, a waterway that originates further north in the peninsula and has its outlet at the harbour. The brook was directed underground in the late 19th C in an effort to control flooding and provide greater opportunities for land development. This is perhaps a key to understanding how past practice and future outcomes coalesce through the destruction of littoral zones.

Waterways are central in the cultural landscapes of Mi’kma’ki, in practical dimensions such as sustenance and resource management, and in relation to the development of language, kinship, symbol systems and world views. They came to be important resources and features for non-indigenous colonists too.

Multiple narratives of invisibility, submersion, secrecy and ghosts haunt Freshwater Brook.

Photographer unknown, The Kissing Bridge at Freshwater Brook, Halifax Nova Scotia, c.1870

Robert Bean is an independent artist, writer and curator living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Bean has edited books and published articles on the subject of photography, contemporary art and cultural history and has exhibited his work in solo and group exhibitions in Canada, the United States, Europe, Korea and New Zealand.

Bean is a recipient of grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts. Robert Bean was the Artist in Residence at the Canada Science and Technology Museum, Ottawa, in 2010. Bean's work is in public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and ZKM (Centre for Art & Media) Karlsruhe.


Barbara Lounder is a visual artist living in Nova Scotia, Canada. She has recently retired from her position as a Professor at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Lounder has presented her artwork in exhibitions and venues across Canada and internationally and attended artists’ residencies and presented at conferences and symposia about walking and art in Banff, Alberta; Vancouver, British Columbia; Newcastle, Sunderland and Plymouth UK; Sokołowsko, Poland; Munich and Dilsberg, Germany; Gabrovo, Bulgaria; Merida, Mexico; and Portland, Maine. Her performative works engage members of the public in carefully designed walking activities. Recent publications include articles in the Performing Arts Journal and the Journal of Public Pedagogy. 

Robert Bean and Barbara Lounder initiated the collaborative project “Being-in-the-Breathable”, an on-going research/creation exploration that presents walking as public art. In 2017, Bean and Lounder were commissioned to produce a site-specific installation and walking project titled “Being-in-the-Breathable: an Annotated Walk” for Festival CONTEXTS 2017: International Sokolwsko Festival of Ephemeral Art, Poland.

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