Demmitt, Alberta is described as a 'hamlet' everywhere I tried to look it up. Located inside Grande Prairie County and nearing the Alberta-British Columbia border, it's an easy miss if you're not looking for it. The first time I heard about Demmitt, its community hall was being described to me. Completed in 2011, the Demmitt Community Hall was constructed with the help of volunteers from the small community, using all sustainable materials like straw bales and timber killed by pine beetles. The project was spearheaded by Peter von Tiesenhausen, an artist and sculptor based out of Demmitt.
Conversations about pipeline development in Alberta are inevitably tricky, knotty, complicated discussions. When the livelihoods of people you know are inexorably tied to the oil industry and experience ups and downs as it does, it can give many pause, hesitant to make any definitive statements.
Peter von Tiesenhausen contributes to the discussion on the side of opposition. After seeing family members experience severe health issues due to area gas leaks, as well as receiving frequent and unceasing propositions from pipeline developers, von Tiesenhausen responded by copyrighting his land as a work of art. This effectively forces the pipeline developers who were previously knocking at his door with ever-growing monetary offers to divert plans originally involving his land.
Copyright itself can outlive it's maker for up to 50 years after their death. 800 acres under Peter von Tiesenhausen's name are protected this way.
To define something is to ascribe it meaning. The same land pipeline developers saw as potential area for industrial growth is the same land that Peter von Tiesenhausen calls home, his space to create. His work embraces the feeling of physical space, of the outside, and a sense of gratitude for nature.
Laurence, R. (2013, February 16). Peter von Tiesenhausen’s Green Actions Challenge Oil Country.Canadian Art. Retrieved from https://canadianart.ca/reviews/peter-von-tiesenhausen/
Esker Foundation. (n.d.). Peter von Tiesenhausen: Experience of the Precisely Sublime [Press release]. Retrieved from Peter von Tiesenhausen: Experience of the Precisely Sublime
Plummer, E. (2011, June 17). New Demmitt community hall complete. Daily Herald Tribune. Retrieved from http://www.dailyheraldtribune.com/2011/06/17/new-demmitt-community-hall-complete