In Search of the Miraculous

Newlyn Art Gallery 27th June – 19th September 2015


In Search of the Miraculous is an exhibition of international artists, inspired by and marking the 40th anniversary of the voyage made by Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader, who set sail alone in July 1975 in a 12½ foot dinghy Ocean Wave from Massachusetts to cross the Atlantic to Falmouth, Cornwall, disappearing en route.

In Search of the Miraculous includes artists who have not necessarily taken direct influence from Bas Jan Ader but have made works that have a yearning for the sublime, a playful pursuit for new experiences and journeys, or a romantic contemplation of the sea and what may lie beyond the horizon.

The exhibition is primarily photography and film and includes Francis Alys, Game Over, Chris Burden, Ghost Ship, Mat Collishaw, Blind Date, Simon Faithfull, 0.00 Navigation, Andrew Friend, Device for Experiencing Lightning Strike, Gunnar Jónsson, Hringsól, Antti Laitinen, Its My Island, Jessica Ramm, Listening Beyond The Horizon, and Guido van der Werve, Nummer Acht:Everything is going to be alright.

Matt Collishaw made a blindfolded trip from London to Madrid to view Velasquez’s painting Las Meninas for exactly three minutes, then returned blindfolded (Blind Date, 2000, video projection). Francis Alÿs made the decision to drive an old VW Beetle into a tree, commenting afterwards “… in that lapse of those final 65–50–35–20–10 feet, the absurdity of the human condition became so glaring to me, so absolute.” (Game Over, 2011, video). Jessica Ramm’s Listening Beyond the Horizon is a search for the unknown; a solitary figure perched in a gothic mountainscape, (2013, photo etching on zinc plate).

Simon Faithfull’s journey obsessively follows the meridian as the only possible path; fences climbed, properties crossed, streams waded, hedges crawled through till he re-enters the sea continuing north (0.00 Navigation, 2009, video), while Gunnar Jónsson directed a fishing boat to circle seemingly endlessly in the sea; utterly futile but mesmerizingly beautiful (Hringsól, 2012,video).

Guido van der Werve’s Nummer Acht: Everything is going to be alright (2007, 16mm to HD video) shows the artist striding ahead of an icebreaker like a 21st century version of Caspar David Friedrich’s intrepid explorers in the painting The Sea of Ice (Das Eismeer). Andrew Friend, like 19th-century scientists who physically put themselves at risk exploring the power of nature, created a Device for Experiencing Lightning Strike which he set up on a Cumbrian mountain (2010, photograph).

Chris Burden took the concept of the solo yachtsman to the extreme level with a crewless, self-navigating sailing boat that took to the seas utterly alone (Ghost Ship, 2005, video and documentation). Antti Laitinen playfully set out to sea on his own primitive vessel (Bark Boat, 2008, photograph) and created his own island (It’s My Island, 2008, videos on 3 monitors).

In Search of the Miraculous is at Newlyn Art Gallery 27th June – 19th September 2015.

Throughout the summer In Search of the Miraculous will provide inspiration for a variety of poets, musicians and performers in a number of public events. As part of the exhibition, a flotilla of small vessels with an eclectic crew of experienced skippers with artists and young people, many who may never have been to sea before, will make a day’s sail from Newlyn to Falmouth.

For further details please visit Newlyn Art Gallery or telephone 01736 363715.

Newlyn Art Gallery, New Road, Newlyn TR18 5PZ