Birling traces the early history of Canadian logging as a means to consider the formation of Canadian identity. Log rolling, or birling, was a skill that was brought over from Scandinavian settlers in Canada in which men would balance on logs to poke at any jams being formed by logs pilling up in river bends. This act of balancing on logs became equated to being a good dancer, as you must be agile on your feet to stay afloat, and the log rollers became idyllic figures within the Canadian settler narrative, having even a song made for them which tells of a woman in love with a log roller for his dancing skills. By collaging archived footage and positioning myself in the position of the log roller floating on the river, I question the romanticization placed on a figure that was created through industry and colonial methods of deforestation.
Full video is 13:56, available upon request. Presented at Post Theatre, Arnhem (NL), for Dutch Art Institute, 2021.