Portrait of the Artist as a Young Boat: About this series

by on June 4, 2014

“Portrait of the Artist as a Young Boat,” 1988-1989

My earliest installation series, entitled “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Boat”— which combined painted canvases in the shape of sails; rope; found objects; and text—was developed during an artist-in-residency fellowship at Altos De Chavon in the Dominican Republic, in 1987.

The tenuous rigging of memory and language, perception and imagination that holds a life together has always been the source of fascination for me—perhaps because my own rigging has always seemed particularly precarious. In Portrait of the Artist as a Young Boat, canvas and wire and text are held in a tension that I equate with the mysterious balance that keeps a self intact: an idiosyncratic weighing and questioning that goes on deep within the psyche.

I continued to work on this series of installations when I returned to New York City, combining fragments of texts — some from original writing, some lines taken from Ezra Pound’s Cantos — and eventually expanding my materials to include audio and video elements.

InRushes” — a spin-off from the Portrait of the Artist as a Young Boat — the text (describing a fictional mental illness) reads in an endless loop:

… phrenic disorder resulting in the subject’s conviction that his/her emotions and perceptions are not his/her own, but are the manifestation of a film being projected outside the sphere of the subject’s perceptions, often accompanied by inappropriate giggling and unconscious cursing, prolonged mirror gazing, neglect of personal hygiene, disorder resulting in … a [schizo]phrenic disorder …”


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