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From Mexico to Wood Buffalo
Video artist visits park to gather images of bison

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, February 17, 2014

A video artist from Mexico recently visited Wood Buffalo National Park to gather images of bison.

Edgardo Aragon said he is interested in buffalo because they represent a way of life that hasn't existed for a very long time, both for the buffalo and aboriginal persons from all over the continent.

Along with Wood Buffalo, Aragon was to visit Yellowstone National Park in the United States and a bison preserve in Mexico for a new art project.

"In a way, the idea of the project is actually to chase a sort of phantom because the buffalo are now, of course, contained to these parks and they're no longer roaming free the way they used to, and in the same way native Americans from all over the continent used to be able to travel nomadically," he said through a translator while visiting Fort Smith. "And now, of course, they are hemmed in by borders, particularly if you're Mexican."

The artist noted Wood Buffalo remains one of the only places to still find buffalo in its original habitat from a time before Europeans came to the Americas.

Aragon, an assistant and a translator were in Fort Smith from Feb. 6 to 11, and then left for Yellowstone National Park and were planning to then visit a buffalo preserve in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, which borders Texas.

On Feb. 9, the visitors and Mike Keizer, the manager of external relations with Wood Buffalo National Park, headed down Pine Lake Road in an attempt to gather video of buffalo from ground level.

"But, unfortunately, with all the driving they did, they were unsuccessful from the ground," said Keizer.

Despite that, he said Aragon was happy with the trip to Wood Buffalo.

"He says he has enough to tell the part of the story he needs to tell for his art, because this is an art piece. It's not a Nature of Things piece," said Keizer, noting the visiting Mexicans obtained video of the weather, landscapes and tracks on the ground, along with images of bison and wolves from the air.

Before heading down Pine Lake Road, Aragon explained that, if no buffalo were spotted along the road, just the act of looking will be part of the final work of art.

The artist said there will be a 25-30-minute film to be shown in museums and galleries.

Aragon, who is from the city of Oaxaca in southwestern Mexico, is a well-known video artist in his country.

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