When working on the visuals of my project THE BALLAST I was thinking of the peculiarities of the weight of art. The artist carries a unique burden in which he has to work within the world and at the same time has to seek entry points into new worlds. It reminds me of the scripture that advises one to, “be in the world but not of this world.” The artist desperately seeks to carry out the seemingly impossible task of relating simultaneously to his object and subject, and yet being neither subject nor object. It is akin to looking into a mirror and seeing yourself as the object, and as you are thinking of yourself immediately you become the subject (and vice-versa): “now you see me, now you don’t”. It is within this paradox of rigidity and fluidity that I question our place of balance. In THE BALLAST I have taken the point of view not of the experience of a solidified state or a state of fluidity, but of being a witness to the struggle and the feat of being in flux between the two.
Despite the apparent impermeability of a rock and its ability to brace itself against the elements, it slowly and imperceptibly erodes. A rock also presents functionality and stability. If I pile enough rocks in the belly of a seagoing vessel, it will stay below the water level, a compensator for buoyancy. On another plane, a rock brings forth life, if one accepts that our planet is a functional, yet slowly eroding rock. We cannot separate ourselves from the environment we exist in, and on. But as we cling to this rock of ages we are also floating in space, just as the rocks in the hull of an oceangoing vessel – we have learned to float through time and the universe. As any survivalist knows, with nothing to cling to in a rapidly moving body of water, we need to give ourselves over to the stream to stay buoyant and prevent drowning – exactly the situation of faith. But this weight that brings us movement can also bring forth stagnation (or worse) if the load keeps accumulating and the liberty of continuance is stripped away. What is the path of liberation when the ballast is pulling you under the water level? The Buddhists believe that achieving liberation is two-fold, by letting go and letting go into something. Letting go into something, perhaps, has less to do with willing or creating than it does with allowing. For example, leaving home at a young age is akin to surrendering to a rapidly moving body of water, to allow yourself new, future possibilities – letting go, into something.
Allowing myself as an artist to have faith and giving over to my subconscious I can let go of the right amount of weight to keep myself relevant and sturdy in the given moment. To keep this ambiguous balance, I believe one has to, “keep standing in the middle of all this”, to be tucked and pulled without stopping observing what is tucking and pulling you.
THE BALLAST is built from these intermingling dualities of real experiences and it touches upon the domestic as well as the epic. How when we are in flux, our observations of the world are renewed from any new point as it can be regarded as the center, and where all positions are relative. A transcendental trickery where we can paradoxically deconstruct boundaries and unify all divisions. Thomas Tranströmer spoke of the effect of art on the artist and viewer as, ”a house of glass standing on a slope; rocks are flying, rocks are rolling. The rocks roll straight through the house but every pane of glass is still whole.”