well, they did it. if nothing else, credit has to be given to Flux Factory for managing to park a 31-foot boat in the Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, for the upcoming ‘L.I.C, NYC’ exhibition, which opens Sunday 6 May and runs for most of the summer, through 5 August.
The thought of a boat parked on land, shipwrecked as it were, is already quite intriguing. Where did this boat come from? Who was in charge to let such a wreck happen? What were the circumstances of the wreck and how does a boat crash so far inland? The imagination is pretty free to roam in order to answer these questions, even before coming to the ‘art’. Hopefully, of course, the art will attempt to answer these questions, and add a couple more to the mix.
The boat itself, already, is quite sculptural. It’s also a very unique boat, it’s build and make are uncommon and give the boat an immediate distinction. Throw that onto land, and you have a double-whammy sensation!
Of course, this is a Flux Factory project, and is accompanied by all the complications and excitements that all Flux Factory projects include. Notably, there are 30 artists involved with this Albatross. How do you get 30 artists to agree to concepts and materials, and make sure the final completed installation is coherent, so that all the ‘art’ is understood to be part of this final work? What if two artists have similar ideas or want to use similar materials or objects, how do you make sure those individual works aren’t conflicting and each fit into the larger project without coming across as an argument of materials, one vying for dominance over the other – of course, unless that is the intention of said works, which isn’t likely given the nature of artists’ egos.
Early on in the project, some artists were outright declaring the work they were going to be including in the Albatross, before they had ever even SEEN the boat! I argued over email:
And now artists are starting to throw out somewhat definitely the work they want to make, rather than working with the boat, on site, within the camps, towards an idea. […] I’m getting concerned that there’s no cohesion.
some works are suggestive of a shipwreck, others of this captain. if we conclude on a notion of archaeology, here’s a simple question: was this captain an archaeologist, or are we the artists-archaeologists? I think this would produce very different works. asking ourselves questions like these will better-help clarify exactly the work we should be making.
Of course not everyone agreed with my thinking. Notably the illustrators and design-minded artists saw ‘no conflict’ as I did. Which re-affirms my point, or question rather, of how do you get 30+ artists to agree on a project like this? Flux Factory, while it proclaims itself an ‘arts collective’, is not in the business of fabricating very physical works that are collectively produced. It operates better for the facilitation to such ends – a sort of management agency that promotes mostly installation-based works in group exhibitions. This time things are different: ‘Flux Factory’ is more of a banner under which 30 artists are operating, and each have apparently free reign over the works they’re going to include under said banner. The argument again falls back to it has to all come together.
Eventually pushing for this communication improves things, and some artists met up on-site. Still, it was only 1/2 of the artists involved. Not much was said that wasn’t already known, or which weren’t simply practical arrangements (how we have 24-hour access, what precautions to take when working on the boat, how to get electricity to the boat, etc.).
Eventually we plan on tipping the boat onto its side, in order to suggest this shipwreck, and also to give the final installation a new dimension; to expand on what I said earlier, as if a boat on land wasn’t enough, now its on its side – whammy! The shipwreck has landed. I’ve worked minimally on the boat itself; as an artist I can’t really approach the boat as a type of sculpture until it is on its side. It’s silhouette, it’s shape, it’s direction and vector, I can’t work with any of that until it is actually stranded on shore. I’m interested then to work with the condition of the boat, on its side, and to produce a work which acknowledges this condition, which stands as a work on its own but which is also part of the larger work.
some full-size photos on Flickr