Pam Hall ✿ The Encyclopedia of Local Knowledge


21 December 2023

The Knowledge House and Chapter 1 in HouseWork(s) at The Rooms, St. John’s, 2014

Enjoy a podcast from Newfoundland about an art project based on place-specific know-how.

Pam Hall has extended her practice as an artist in Newfoundland to create an Encyclopedia of Local Knowledge. The three chapters written so far feature the living crafts of Northern Penninsula and Bonn Bay, Fargo and Change Islands and Miawpukek Middle River. We invited Pam to share the story of his epic project. Listen here.

Highlights include:

  • “Bell Hooks always said, the margins are an excellent place for resistance, and to challenge the conceptions and assumptions of the center.”
  • “One of the things that always drew me here coming from the center, you know, 50 years ago, was that there was no pretence of control. This is not a mastery and control kind of place people die every year on the North Atlantic, both in the oil industry and in the fishing industry.”
  • Art can involve making new knowledge.
  • The first chapter of 92 pages was made as part of a PhD. The second was with a postdoctoral fellowship. And the third was supported by the Federal Arts Council and the Federal Research Council
  • “I don’t believe we own knowledge. I don’t believe we make it by ourselves. I think we all make it together.”
  • As well as the indigenous communities, the Irish have been on Fogo Island for seven generations and have a “deep commitment to heritage and traditional knowledge.”
  • Knowledge of the same task such as crab fishing varies according to the specific place on the island and changes with the environment.
  • “We all live somewhere.”
  • There are 10 copies of each chapter: two are owned by Memorial University, two are with the artist and the rest are distributed through the communities.

Excerpts from all three chapters at the QEII Library on the St. John’s Campus of Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador.


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