To find resolution in movement Split screen video documentation. Video projected onto planning map w/ thai kozo and pastel. Projector stand by Bryce Green. Approx. 48 x 78 inches. 2018.The top screen displays documentation of the performative journey across the Colorado River Delta from west to east. Ben Schoenburg and Hollis Moore trailed the canoe behind bicycles from Museo Comunitario Cucapáon the Rio Hardy to the Cienega de Santa Clara and met with environmental leaders and activists. The bottom screen displays video documentation of the paddle journey from the Rio Colorado, through estuary and the dredged sandbar, and into the Upper Gulf of California. Audio voices, in order, are: Alejandra Calvo Fonseca, Gabriela González, Eduardo Blancas, Antonia Torres González, Sandra Ortiz, Dzoara Rubio, Guadalupe Fonseca, and Juan Butrón-Mendez.
1/2/2018 Whose voice is the river’s voice?
We are back at Rancho Mil. After a journey across the Delta. From West to East to West. Across the entire valley where the Colorado River used to flow. Zig-zagging, meandering, lost in this flat land. From Rio Hardy we left the cattails and tamarisk and entered a mesquite bosque. There were many birds, mostly ducks, and constant sounds of hunters' shotguns.
Before we left we rigged our bikes with 9 L of water and the canoe on the trailer. Our send-off by Don and Gustavo was reassuring. We met Antonia shortly after at the Museo Comunidad Cucapáand we talked for an hour or so about the impact of the Colorado River’s lack in quality and quantity on the Indigenous people of the delta. This area was ravaged by the 2010 earthquake, which literally liquified agricultural plots so that that were induated with saline groundwater. There are ditch systems similar to New Mexico’s acequias with decent dirt roads to ride the bicycles on. The dried, dusty mesquite plots led us to sporadic homes along the Colorado River. Privatized properties and steep shorelines infested by salt cedar- we couldn’t even get a peek at the river. Many locals gave us helpful directions in Spanish- fast and direct. They know the quality of each road well. See the trailer and give advice as to what roads we can handle. Most ask if we are lost and we say we are going to the Cienega to meet Juan Butron in Mesa Rica. Ha. Okay, then give directions. “Pescas?” that’s the other question. What few tourists there are in the area come here to hunt, not fish. They water quality is too bad for fishing.
We spent the first night on a tiny plot of private property along the river and fell asleep to the sounds of New Year's Eve celebrations and fireworks in the town. In the morning at the market everyone was shopping and the kids seemed excited about the canoe. People have the holiday off and are cheerful. It doesn’t seem like we are that out of place. It’s the New Year and everyone is celebrating.
We took Highway 1- the paved road through the town dump, then miles across the old Colorado River channel through the flat countryside of cotton, alfalfa, citrus, and dates. It nearly killed me trailing the canoe because its hot for January. We drudged through a few towns, followed canals through farming communities all the way to Mesa Rica, then through the dunes of the Sonoran Mesa, and old deserted cement mines. The sun was so hot at 5pm.
Juan was waiting with his family to meet us. The video recorder failed for most of his interview, but we talked for over an hour and his wife kindly made us piña tamales. Then he sent us off through the mudflats to the Cienega de Santa Clara which is the largest wetlands of the delta. The wetlands were created by a canal of agricultural wastewater dumped by Arizona and too low in quality for human needs. The ecosystem is proof of the amazing properties of wetlands to revitalize water, provide habitat, and bring communities together.