Far Along, Part I
Collaboration between ap-art-ment and JMU Fiber Arts students
ap-art-ment was born in 2009 in San Francisco. ap-art-ment's focus is to look for existing social structures that can be examined and used as contemporary art outposts: for instance the home of a curator, the hulls of various boats, a kitchen, the seats of a car, a neighbor's front stoop. Though sites have remained crucial to the disequilibrium we find valuable in this project, equally are the events and collaborative works produced: public roundtable discussions, collaborative sculptures made with students across the country, lessons, film screenings with explication by professors in various fields, public performance, mobile studio spaces, and inclusive, experimental social exchanges.
ap-art-ment contains a tripartite philosophy: mobile platform, shared authorship and collaborative modes of production. We share the authorship of work by remaining vulnerable, by being open to suggestions, by inviting influence. We collaborate in the project so that an idea that has multiple etymologies can be as varied in its fabrication as it is in its genesis.
Far Along is a multi-piece project focused on transformations: passive observer to active participant, strangers into community, mobile experiment to fixed exhibition. The first stage of Far Along will culminate in a boat expedition/mobile exhibition to the Farallon Islands, officially a part of the City of San Francisco, though 27 miles offshore. Forty-five participants will sail under the Golden Gate Bridge, and out into the Pacific Ocean to the shark-filled waters and aviary habitat of the mythic Farallon Islands. This intimate and challenging setting is an important feature of ap-art-ment projects: the act of sharing an immediate environment and the potential for influence that exists when people find themselves forming transient communities in an immersive space. The space of the Bay, the boat, and the aesthetic experience of the expedition are framed upon return as passenger-participants become reoriented to the city's pace, proximity to the water they just occupied, and the collective consumption of products
and culture provided by the ports and manufacturing industry.
ap-art-ment’s past two boat exhibitions/expeditions, The Essential Voyage and The Incredible Hull, sailed participants around the San Francisco Bay, allowing for a collective experience of this tumultuous landscape, varied and new perspectives of the cities that surround the San Francisco Bay, and a closer proximity to the systems of transportation and commerce (from the Golden Gate and Bay bridges and ports to the vast shipping containers passed en-route). We believe the space of the home and the hull of a boat contain flexibility and maneuverability, and accommodate the different paces of growth needed for projects that contain extensive communication, intimacy in exhibition and performance, and wide-ranging research and involvement.
Far Along, Part 1:
The cairn, not unlike the Golden Gate Bridge, is both an elaborate and beautiful marker, and a fixed memorial to the those who have died there, but it is also a complicated indexical object which carries the information of current location and time. From the Inuits to Native Americans to the Celts, cairns have been used to mark pathways or trails, to give direction to those walking. It has been used by seafaring peoples to mark the coastline, regarding ports or important fishing locations that would be lost without such an indicator on land. They are sites of memorializing those who have died, as reliquaries of the dead, the hopes and prayers for that spirit as it passes on to next lives or the hereafter, as positions of memory, honor, and visitation. The cairn as an object has a brilliance in that it can be added to, and as the act of adding to the object grows it, it also diversifies its form, and its content. It is an archive of the activity that has created it.
Thank you to Pat Augsburger for inviting us to be visiting artists at JMU and for the chance to work with her students to make this exhibition at the Smith House Gallery. Thank you to the students for working thoughtfully and intensely with us during this project.
Images courtesy of Pat Augsburger, 2012