Alex Ayed “Letters from Kattegat” at Balice Hertling, Paris

By Last Updated: November 7, 2023Views: 231

The brand new sequence of wall works, composed of stretched boat sails and drawings, echoes a monumental antenna, offered by the artist on the Fondation Louis Vuitton on the event of his solo exhibition “Farewell,” related to the sailboat on which Ayed is embarking on a round-the-world expedition departing from the Kattegat Strait.

“The place are your monuments, your battles, martyrs? The place is your tribal reminiscence? Sirs, in that gray vault. The ocean has locked all of them. The ocean is historical past.”
—Derek Walcott

Pricey Alex,

I’m composing this word to you from a rickety New York Metropolis subway, our bodies wobbling as we hurtle towards Manhattan.

The place are you?

Are you on the ocean?

The final time we had been in contact you had been. On the ocean that’s—in a far-flung Nordic strait referred to as Kattegat, coaching to be an expert sea farer within the custom of Ahab, Odysseus, Popeye . . .

A lot has occurred. Between every now and then, I imply. You bought your captain’s license. A ship, too. You instructed me that the boat was referred to as Tindra, a reputation, you insisted, you couldn’t change as a result of it’s unhealthy luck to. (You, a bit embarrassed, admitted that it interprets to “twinkle” in Swedish) You reported that your boat was sturdy, its hull comprised of metal. You mentioned that it was so sturdy that you can sail all of it the best way to Antarctica.

Alex, is that an actual plan or had been you jesting?

I additionally spent the summer time on the ocean. The Mediterranean: a miracle patch of blue that’s Janus-faced, paradoxical: paradise for the leisure lessons; a graveyard affected by our bodies, too. Like that Marianne Moore poem, have you learnt the one I imply? You mentioned it your self as soon as in a letter: “she is sort of a dwelling creature with feelings . . . delicate however fairly brutal.” Fairly. The Mediterranean is moody. It swallows folks en masse.

In August, I met a lady from Gabon who had tried to cross into Greece from Turkey seven instances, every time intercepted by the Greek coast guard, every time turned again. All of this whereas pregnant, all of this whereas on her personal. She slid via the seventh time, care of cash handed to a smuggler and a precarious rubber dingy. Though she now lives in a rustic encircled by the ocean, she tells me she will’t bear to take a look at it. She doesn’t know how you can swim.

The ocean holds tales. Alex, I consider the motley sails you’ve collected, from ships and shipyards all over the world. They’re tattered, weathered, stained by time, by expertise. If solely they may communicate. What tales would they relate? What horrors—and delights—have they seen?

(You as soon as described them as work made with out paint).

You’re a dreamer. Why else would you select to change into a sailor? You evaluate your sails to screens, surfaces on which one might venture. A spot the place something goes. The place fiction turns into actuality. You as soon as famous that early science fiction used to envisage preposterous issues like robots and spaceships and . . . right here we’re. Woowoo folks would name that “manifesting.”

You’ve a factor for animals. I keep in mind as soon as strolling right into a cavernous exhibition area in Milan the place you had a present and being knocked over by the odor of hay, poop. Traces of animals that you just had introduced via. You instructed me that as a result of animals expertise the world otherwise, they function a kind of mirror. They pressure us out of our personal crowded human heads.

Are you able to inform me concerning the seagull plopped over within the gallery? He appears like he could also be sleeping. Or maybe he’s doing yoga? I google seagulls and the Web tells me that they have to be revered as a result of they maintain the souls of drowned fishermen. I like to think about them as hopeful presences. Indicators for the itinerant sailor that land shouldn’t be far.

I see that there shall be one other present, on the opposite facet of Paris, open similtaneously the exhibition at Balice Hertling. Apparently, you’ll be sending missives from the ocean, a bit like those you ship me, to audiences there through an enormous antenna. A word concerning the form of a cloud. A meditation on utterings overheard on the ship radio. Your view of a passing orca. Wind patterns.

Psychic dispatches.

Alex, a lot of your work thus far is about embracing the surprising, about having religion, about submitting to what the world fingers you. Probability, serendipity, its reverse. On this case, your sparring companion is the ocean—unruly, not possible to tame. Myriam, a typical buddy, calls you “a traveler,” and that feels proper.

You as soon as made a joke about getting misplaced—not within the sea, per se, like Bas Jan Ader, however in a correspondence between two strangers. Many months later, we nonetheless haven’t met, however I believe we’re not strangers anymore. Is that truthful?

Yours, Negar

at Balice Hertling, Paris
till November 18, 2023


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