If This Rock Could Speak: A Tour of Mark Leckey’s BigBoxNaturalAction – Louis Kamenka
Is it possible to make a two hundred and twenty million year old rock give up its secrets? This is one of the questions underlying Mark Leckey’s installation and performance BigBoxNaturalAction, recently on view at the Walter Phillips Gallery at The Banff Centre. A large speaker stack, which stood across from an equally sized piece of rundle rock, emitted a series of noises in attempt at direct communication with this ancient object. For over ten years, Leckey has been using large sound systems to offer a different modality of communication with sculptures, a steam engine, and here, a locally quarried rock. BigBoxNaturalAction continues this series, investigating the animism found in supposedly inert objects.
As part of the Walter Phillips Gallery public programs, curator Jesse McKee invited geologist and quarry owner Louis Kamenka to talk about the rock his quarry had generously leant the gallery for the exhibit. In Kamenka’s discussion, he gives a detailed natural history of rundle rock, his personal relationship to artisanal quarrying, and offers a fascinating account of the place of rock in relation to human culture.
This is an edited recording of the tour given by Kamenka:
Louis Kamenka at the Walter Phillips Gallery, The Banff Centre.
Image: Mark Leckey, BigBoxNaturalAction (2012) courtesy the artist and the Walter Phillips Gallery.
Louis Kamenka is the owner and operator of Rundle Rock Building Stone Quarry near Canmore, Alberta. The family run quarry, established in 1954 by Louis Kamenka Senior, specializes in traditional stone masonry, which involves the quarrying and splitting of each stone with a chisel and hammer. The highly skilled artisanal approach to quarrying, selecting one piece of stone at a time, hand-splitting the finest bedding plane, sorting by size, thickness, colour, and workability assures that each of Kamenka’s stones retain their integrity and natural shape. Kamenka received both a BSc and an MSc of Geology from the University of Alberta in Edmonton. During his tenure with the Geological Survey of Canada, Kamenka researched the Quaternary, a geological period spanning the most recent 2.6 million years of earth’s history; geology in southwest Alberta; glaciers in Banff National Park; open pit coal mines in Alberta and British Columbia; and worked on the Canada National Coal Inventory Project. For the past twenty years, he has instructed, lectured, and led community classes and geology field trips in the Bow Valley and the Rocky Mountain area. He has worked extensively with the Festival of Peoples, local students, and the Canmore school mentor program.