Statement of Ethics

       After many years worth of scrutiny, conversation, research, experimentation and serendipitous occurrences, I have developed a practice of ethical questioning and adjustment which is rigorously applied to all my outdoor work. These ethics are just as important to the works as the images the works embody. Because each art work is uniquely situated, it is necessary that the codes and questions that embody this practice remain flexible enough to adapt to different circumstances and conditions. Although this practice comes from a place of sincere concern and responsibility, I cannot deny that it has also become a bit of a game. I delight in the challenge of making work that follows these ethical considerations. I think that my sense of humor and play is what has made my artwork viable. My work brings me great joy and fulfillment, however that joy is rendered hollow and ugly if its impact on others is not accounted for thoughtfully and openly. The following is a collection of laws and questions which guide and shape my work ethically.  Other artists are invited to reach out and discuss! Schelseyms@gmail.com. 

Laws that shall always be followed

For the sake of clarity, some of these rules are discretely stated; this makes them subject to error. Therefore, they must remain open to augmentation, subtraction or total deletion. They will never be complete and they must be subject to revision and evolution forever. The words “creature” or “inhabitants” includes humans, plants, insects, and animals, alike. The word “land” refers to the terrain or surface upon which the work rests as well as to its inhabitants.)

  •   The artwork’s presence may not disrupt or impede the mobility, existence, survival or thrival of any creature. 

  • The caretakers of the land upon which the work exists must agree to the work’s existence. 

  • The opinions and decisions made by members of Indigenous Nations who inhabited the land prior to its colonization take precedence over any decision-making regarding a work’s existence.

  • Naturally occurring matter or matter that is not damaging to the land must not be removed from the land. 

  • Any matter which is harmful or injurious to the land (i.e. sharp glass, plastic, diapers), must be safely removed and discarded upon its being noticed. 

  • New matter must not be introduced to the land.  

Guiding Questions

The following questions must be thoroughly considered before one proceeds with art making. If the answers to these questions reveal an exclusion of or impedance to the thrival of others, solutions in order to amend these exclusions may be found. If a solution cannot be arrived at, the art making must desist and materials must be returned to their original location. 

 

  • Who lives here? 

  • Who enjoys this space?

  • What allows me to enjoy this space?

  • What can I do to sustain this space for others?

  • What ecosystems rely on this land?

  • What nations or people were displaced from the land?

  • What is the land’s cultural and anthropological history? 

  • What is the land’s geographic history?

  • How do my actions affect the land?

  • How does my work affect its viewers?

  • How are the work and materials discarded or stored?

Other Questions

(not specific to land-based work)

 

​Who is my intended audience?

Who is the work for? 

Who is it not for? 

How does it take up space in the social and cultural contexts within which it exists? 

Can anyone make this type of work? 

Where do the ideas that support the work come from? 

Is the work leaning on the labor of previous creators?

What advantages have allowed me to engage in this process?

How can I make my process more accessible to other people?

How can the work be leveraged to uplift members of your community who are systemically disadvantaged?

-Schelsey Mahammadie-Sabet