This piece is a great example of work that fits best within the confines of a gallery or museum space. Much rightful criticism has been leveled against the “sterile cube” of the white-walled gallery, but such institutions provide a vital and recognized space to exhibit work that would otherwise be unfeasible (or at the very least unreasonable).
While curating Blue Meridian with the NGCI’s director Natalie Urquhart, we decided that although tangentially related, Waterline didn’t quite fit. However, the director kept it in mind and when curating The Persistence of Memory a year later she requested this piece be part of the show. Each boat form is roughly eight feet long, so it needs a lot of space around it, best provided by the type of exhibit area institutions have available.
Below is the statement from the show regarding this piece. Full catalogue here (PDF).
May 19, 2012
Funerary rituals vary from culture to culture, but seem to be something common to the human experience. We seem compelled to mark these solemn occasions.
For me the sea has always been a metaphor for another world, an infinite world. I thought of the funeral biers of various cultures and felt compelled (for various personal reasons) to make one of my own.
In Cayman the frangipani flower (also variously known as jasmi or plumeria) has been traditionally planted in graveyards. It is also known in India as the flower of eternal life, because of the incredible vitality of the plant which seems to defy harsh conditions, poor soil, little rain, and still bloom, sprinkling its flowers daily upon the tombs. The flower is also used by the Hawaiians, who make them into flower necklace lei to show affection, offer welcome, and commemorate significant events.
The objects in the sister boat-form have been interpreted variously as mines or seeds, and in both cases they are metaphors for potential and change. Both contain within them the ability to produce radical transformation, and it seemed fitting to me that the viewer has to decide for themselves which type of change is possible in this case. I see death as both destruction and rebirth, not in any cyclical sense but more a transformation from one form to another. We spend our lives on this journey, navigating our way toward this change. It is up to us to decide whether the transformation is a positive or negative one.