Stories of sea journeys have long mesmerised their readers with the images of longing, discoveries, hardship and survival, of determination and being lost, of the width of the open sea, the magic of foreign destinations and the attempt of reaching them by sea; they tell us how men and women face up to the elements of wind and water, how they defeat them or are defeated. But how and why do contemporary artists access the theme of sea journeys, island hopping and trans-oceanic concepts, what are their motivations and intentions, and which modes of expression do they employ?
These are the questions that the artist-curators Imi Maufe and Rona Rangsch - who work with sea journeys in their own artistic practice - address by exhibiting a wide range of international artworks on the subject. Works exploring real and conceptual sea journeys; across oceans, between islands, long distances or short moments; fictional, historical or contemporary can be seen in the show - their common feature being the subtle, and profound approach of the theme. Besides works researched by the curators, submissions from an open call were selected for the show to display a maximum of different approaches. The realisation of the show in a gallery in a city with no connection to the sea is an intentional contrast. There is an artist book section on the same theme accompanying the show.
Artist books by:
Peter Bennett, Tacita Dean, David Faithfull, Simon Faithfull, Caroline de la Fe, Sven Johne, Sukaina Kubba, Laurie Lax, Peter Matthews, Sarah Ramona, Judith Schalansky, Ian Stephen, Susan Timmins, ‹usus› Uta Schneider & Ulrike Stoltz, Thomas Whittle, Carola Willbrand, Philippa Wood a.o.
Artist talk in the seminar room of the Kuenstlerhaus by Simon Le Ruez in the framework of the programme Offene Hochschule by the University of Applied Sciences Dortmund
Artist-Talk by the curators
On the last day of the exhibition, Imi Maufe and Rona Rangsch will talk about the role of sea journeys and trans-oceanic concepts in their own artistic practice in the seminar room of Kuenstlerhaus Dortmund and thus give an insight into their motivation for realising the show.
John Cumming and Cecil Tait (UK - Orkney)
Ditty boxes, wooden boxes (by Cecil Tait), wood, stone, rope, wax, otter fur, clay, Blei, moss, different sizes, since 2011
To think oneself into the mind of a seaman, we must imagine a world in which one’s fate lay entirely at the whim of others. Those few possessions which gave one identity, the things which said – this is my past, my present, my hope – were kept in a “ditty box”. My “Ditty Boxes” were made as a direct response to a sea voyage made in 2011 among Scotland’s North Atlantic islands. The journey was a unique opportunity to reflect upon the maritime history of my native Shetland Islands, and the devastating effects that are now being wrought on wildlife and local culture by ocean warming.
Device for disappearing (at sea) , Fiberglass, Resin, Plywood, Stainless Steel, Rope, Bouyancy bags, 300x300x60 cm; Disappearing (at sea), C-type Print, 150x120cm
The device for disappearing (at sea) offers the individual opportunity for a safe, temporary disappearance, experiencing an isolation seldom found on land. The occupier of the device is absorbed into the chasm, disappearing from view beneath the water’s surface. The device examines the relationship between the known above, and the unknown/imagined world below sea level.
Lutz Fritsch (DE)
Schneeball (snow ball), installation with 2 video streams and drawing, 2005; above: video stills
The snow ball was thrown from Antarctica to the Arctic on 24 January 2005 and landed there on 3 September.
Matthew Herring (UK
Wake, 2012; 3 sheets, oil paint and acrylic paint on acrylic primed reclaimed paper from academic journals; above: sheet no.1 - 'Wake' - 1150 x 1616mm (sheet no. 2 - 'in the night' - 1150 x 1617mm; sheet no. 3 - 'at sea' - 1156 x 1630mm)
The piece 'Wake' takes the sea journey as a metaphor for the journey of life. It was inspired by the experience of being in the middle of the ocean at night. The profound darkness and absence of any signs of human presence take on an existential dimension as they recall the existential loneliness and darkness of our journey through life. 'Wake' plays on the three meanings of the English word 'wake': as the wake of a ship, as a call to wake up and as a vigil for the dead.
Gunnar Jónsson (IS)
Hringsól 4 (Wander around 4), 7 minute video loop, 2012
Hringsól 4 (wander around 4) is a video of an ordinary looking fishing boat that simply sails in circles in the big ocean, leaving a circular drawing on the sea.
Simon Le Ruez (UK/DE)
Adrift, 2009, wood, steel, concrete, texture, oil and household paint, 26 x 89 x 15cm
‘Adrift’ is from a series of works that explores the notion of derelict utopias. Maritime references alongside a use and application of colour, which recalls a sense of the familiar, combine to evoke an air of consequence and the passage of time. A prevailing factor is the suggestion of a constant ebb and flow, carrying with it both the promise and threat of escape.
David Lilburn (IR)
‘Sailing the South Coast, Smerwick to Youghal’, drypoint, watercolour, chine collé, h70 x 360cms, 2013, below: details
Drawing on my experiences of sailing off the west and south coast of Ireland which will ‘map’ the coastline from the Arann Islands (West) to Youghal (South) and drawing on ‘memory’, the logs, drawings, charts, photographs, stories and histories of the islands, ports and harbours on the way; the work attempts to: re-create/ re-present/ re-imagine/ re-live/ re-invent a ‘sea journey’. (David Lilburn)
Ding Ren (NL/USA)
ono to one, site specific installation, 2009/2013
'one to one' is a site-specific installation that highlights the traces and imperfections of a space through mapping. Dents, scratches, bumps, and so forth are matched with geographic territories on maps. The piece is meant to give a new meaning and identity to traces that have been created by chance through natural use of a space. The visitor is invited to do some island hopping - in a literal sense.
i went to the beach and stared west (38.8 °N), photograph, map, 2011
The beach town, Praia das Maçãs, just outside of Lisbon, Portugal, is at the same degrees latitude as my former home, Washington, DC. I traveled to this point so that I could stand on the beach and stare west, connected by an invisible latitude line to the city I used to call home.
Aslak Gurholt Rønsen (NO)
Sinking ship, Photography/collage, 9 x 12,5 cm, 2008
“Sinking ship” is a small artwork made from an old photograph. I think it should be regarded as a collage, although I’m not certain it qualifies for the term, as it's made from only one piece of paper that is sliced into two parts and where one part is moved slightly.
Jeff Talman (USA)
Sea of Curves, Sound Installation, 2012; hydrophone, seismometer recordings: Matt Fowler, NOAA Vents Acoustic Monitoring Project, James Traer, NOAA Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Sound source: Atlantic Ocean waves recorded by water, land and air
'Sea of Curves' explores wave sound essences including the “hum of the Earth”, the bell-like ringing of the world caused by planet-wide surface waves impacting on the sea floor.The title refers to the ever-changing, sinuous shapes of waves and to the vast planetary curve that's slightly visible where the sea and sky form the distant, wide horizon.
Sally Waterman (UK)
February (2011), video, sound, 2:32 min, composer: Donna McKevitt (Warner Classics, 1998), taken from 'Translucence' series (Based on Derek Jarman’s writings)
'February' traces the artist's catamaran journey across the Solent, from Portsmouth to Ryde, Isle of Wight, to attend the funeral of a family friend. The slowly dissolving photographic stills of the passing seascape become representative of her confrontation with loss, enhanced by McKevitt’s haunting, musical score. The sequence ends with views of the shadowy depths of the pier structure, which operates as a visual metaphor for the ceremony that lies ahead.
Concept and Organisation: Rona Rangsch and Imi Maufe
images of works ©: the artists
installation views ©: Hannes Woidich
photos opening ©: Robert Barmeier, Rona Rangsch, Hannes Woidich
kindly suported by:
Cultural Department of the City of Dortmund, Sparkasse Dortmund, DEW 21, Bergen Kommune, Cape Farewell Foundation