by Christine Collins
The sustainable food movement, a recent catchphrase for a practice that long precedes us, has reinvigorated our relationship to the landscape. Local farms have become temples to this movement. These romanticized patches of land are the backdrops for our fantasies about a harmonious participation in the landscape. Vegetables procured from Community Supported Agriculture groups enjoy a privileged status and suggest a better life through a perceived connection to the sources of our food. We seek to make this halcyon vision, which has its cultural and art historical references, congruent with many hours many of us spend inside. The landscape is a concept to be defined.
In the series “The Keepers,” Christine Collins photographs people who are keeping beehives in suburban environments. Once limited to more rural areas, the practice of beekeeping participates in our fantasies about a suburban utopia, where we attempt to achieve both a pastoral and domestic landscape. Beekeeping speaks to our aspirations to hold nature in the face of an increasingly disconnected culture. Collins sees these people as facilitators, and thinks about how the small action of placing a hive in a backyard has broad implications about our desire for an interconnectedness with nature. In New England, where these pictures are made, the hives will struggle to survive the winter months, creating a cycle of death and rebirth. There is a kind of magic in beekeeping; it is a practice that requires patience and faith. Collins makes pictures that suggest ceremony, ritual, and mystery of survival.
Christine Collins is an artist who lives and works in Boston. Her work has been featured in The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, Town and Country Magazine, and elsewhere. Her work is represented by Jen Bekman Gallery, New York. She is the Assistant Professor and Chair of BFA Photography at Lesley University College of Art and Design.