Augural Pair 2011
Steve Badgett and Deborah Stratman
The Natural & The Manufactured, 
Klondike Institute of Arts & Culture (KIAC)
Dawson City, Yukon Territory, CAN

A pair of sculptural interventions that considered how value and desire are connected to landscape and acts of removal. The piece was located in Dawson City, where gold extraction has always been the principle arbiter of population.

In the town bank window, electronic signage displayed up-to-the-minute pricing of gold. These banal six-digits are a digital conduit to world commodities exchange and harbor providential power to influence when and where mining occurs.

On a forested ridge across the Yukon river, a large mirrored disc reflected the sky. Depending on meteorological conditions, it alternately appeared to be a hole through the hillside, a shining disc, a fallen moon or an unblinking eye. To the distant viewer, the disc was a phenomenological mystery, simultaneously void and gleaming light. Five sculpted ravens attended the form, perched on nearby rocks and branches.

Both the ravens and the fluctuating gold price were singled out and magnified through spotting scopes. A nod to remote viewing technologies that bring into visual grasp things we desire but can’t reach.

In First Nations creation mythology, it’s the raven who negotiated land from a world covered with water and delivered the sun to the sky. In traditional augury, flights of birds are closely watched for divination purposes. In global finance, NASDAQ can seem like statistical sorcery, where analysts divine gain or worth through updating phalanxes of numbers. In either case, there’s a striving towards facts we suspect are important but that are often beyond our grasp. It’s this reaching towards something distant or scarce which supplies the conditions of desire – a pervasive, if unstated in this city founded upon the extraction of gold.