An Artistic View
SARAH MISSELBROOK 24/07/2021
‘Structure, ritual, place. Body, performance and material. Contemporary art practice within a rural environment.’
A presentation of the art project ‘Riu d’art’, the gallery in the streets of Riba-roja d’Ebre and it’s connection to sustainability and heritage of the Juniper Ovens. Followed by the theme of the artist’s connection to the land, the territory of the Ribera d’Ebre region, performances and Land Art and to conclude a ‘rant from the rock’.
The Juniper Oil Oven conference or ‘Jornada’, which took place on 24th July 2021 at COAC (the College of Architects in Barcelona), aimed to raise awareness of the important ethnographic heritage of the juniper oil ovens from various perspectives.
I had the privilege to present a paper at this conference, to offer an artistic view of the Juniper Oil Ovens in Riba-roja and how they have inspired artworks created as part of the Riu d’art project, organised by the Riba Rocks.
I also gave more details about the Riba Rocks Association, its aims and objectives as well as providing an insight into my own artistic practice. With an anthropological connection, I spoke about making work in unknown places and how I connect with new environments as well as how I use my body and those of my collaborators to create autonomous marks on surfaces and the use of local, found materials.
From the ‘Con-nec-ted’ performance and installation work in Jeju, South Korea, the ‘Calvari’ installation in the antique washrooms of Riba-roja d’Ebre, through to the performance and sculptural installation in the cremated forest of Maials in Catalunya, the emphasis was on place and body and the connection between the two and how we co-exist with our natural and wild landscape.
I also took the opportunity to show ‘Outside, Inside the Forest’, the ‘rant from the rock’, which was originally made at the end of 2019 but seemed relevant to the conference’s conversation around isolation, rurality, body, place and landscape.
The riverside municipality of Riba-roja d’Ebre in Catalunya has preserved the highest number of juniper oil ovens in the whole of the Iberian Peninsula. Juniper oil is obtained from the wood of the trunks and roots of Juniperus oxycedrus, commonly called cadec and has numerous antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, healing, parasiticidal and pesticidal properties.
These therapeutic properties have led to the fact that juniper oil has historically been used as a remedy for various human and, above all, animal diseases.
These kilns made Riba-roja d’Ebre an important centre of production, to the point of making their manufacture a powerful pre-industrial industry.