During her three month residency at AirGentum Hoja de Ruta international art residency in Andalusia, Spain, in 2018, Imogene explored the question: “How can my art help people experience that they are part of the Universe?” She sought an artistic way to ignite embodied experiences that the environment is not something outside of us, but that “we are in the universe and the universe is in us.” Deciding to experiment in a new direction—video installation—she pushed her artwork to greater dimensionality.
GIRL REVELING IN INSTALLATION
At AirGentum, Imogene filmed the flora and fauna of Castilblanco de los Arroyos, a rural community forty minutes north of Seville. Surrounded by cork forests, wild foraging boar, and cacophonous farm animals, the classic white Andalusian village with about 5000 inhabitants is seemingly timeless. Indeed, the nearby ancient roads to St Benedict’s Hermitage and the Silver Route of El Camino de Santiago are still traversed by pilgrims today.
Imogene’s residency culminated in a solo show “Connecting Castilblanco with the Cosmos.” It featured an interactive video experience in which people moved through the exhibit space and saw imagery of their landscape juxtaposed with the cosmos projected onto themselves. Mirrors, in which the participants saw themselves immersed in the cosmos, symbolized consciousness. The audio track mixed sounds of clamorous neighborhood animals including barking dogs and bellowing roosters; with footfalls of walking on dirt tracks—a nod to pilgrims and local folks—and music of singular interspecies musician David Rothenberg.
Imogene's work unites art and science, challenges our sense of identity as humans, and helps shift our relationship with the cosmos. She credits visionary thinkers astrophysicist Carl Sagan, geologian Thomas Berry, and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin with stretching her thinking about these ideas. Like them, her work challenges basic assumptions about human nature which allows us new self-definitions and possibilities for the future. Experiencing a different relationship with the universe, for example with a sense of wonder instead of as a consumer, has transformative ramifications. As Carl Sagan said: “The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”
At her exhibit, two additional videos by Imogene connected the locale with the cosmos. One focused on a single day in the village and the other on its hospitable people. She also exhibited a series of abstract paintings expressing her sensory experience of Castilblanco. The paintings convey the bright Andalusian light, dynamic shapes and colors of the landscape, and warmth of the Spanish people. A highlight of Imogene’s stay at AirGentum was sleeping under the stars (on cushioned patio furniture complete with mosquito net) for three months. Serenaded by booming roosters and braying donkeys, she would watch constellations crawl up the commodious night sky, studded by the Milky Way.
Imogene Drummond is an award-wining filmmaker, painter, author of articles on cultural transformation, world traveler, and former psychotherapist. She has an MFA from Mt. Royal School of Art at MICA. Her article "Options for the Future" is the closing piece in the thought-provoking anthology The Rule of Mars (KIT, 2006), endorsed by Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist and author Jared Diamond. Due to her painting expeditions around the world, Drummond was invited to join the Society of Woman Geographers whose membership includes explorers of ideas as well as geography, among them Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, and Jane Goodall.