|(c) artist Mixed media|
Approx. 21.35 m long, 3.15 m wide, 110 cm deep
HAUSER & WIRTH, 23 Saville Row
until July 27
What does the vat contain that is not in the river?
What does the room encompass that is not in the city?
This world is the vat, and the heart the running stream,
this world the room, and the heart the city of wonders.
(From The Sufi Path of Love by the 13C Persian poet Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī)
What is a traditional fishing boat from Kerala , India - measuring over 20 metres - doing straddling the length of the gallery? It looks a bit tipsy, unstable. Stormy weather out there. Lying on the ground it would have been beached, defeated.
|(c) the artist.|
Here the link with the poet Rumi marks the idea of microcosm: an entire universe contained within a human soul. The boat is no mere piece of transport for getting you from one place to another. The contents are crammed and pushed together, bound with ropes. For the moment they lie there useless. They have come from somewhere and are on the move. They remind us of sustenance, livelihood, even survival.
This artwork is placed in one of the most expensive and glamorous parts of London. It reminds me of the magic of freighters described in a very different poem which tens of thousands of British school children learnt by heart decades ago.There's even a reference to cheap tin trays.
CARGOES by John Masefield
Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.
Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.