Currently on at Galerie Balice Hertling, although temporarily closed due to Covid-19, artist Alex Ayed has brought together a unique range of works exploring notions of travel, exploration and interconnectivity. The show, consisting of a series of stretched sail works and a series of sculptural objects, draws on a range of notions regarding the passage of bodies, and the impacts it has on humanity’s conception of the world.
The exhibition includes five wall-mounted works that have been made from sails stretched over canvas, and four sculptural pieces: a suitcase made from goat skin, a dried greater pipefish, a fluorescent orange sack, and an assembled object in the form of a miniature lighthouse. Each of these objects makes explicit reference to the notions of travel, particularly sea travel, and the ways in which humanity found early knowledge of the world as a totality through that same mode of travel. The exhibition title, “Roaring Forties,” references the notorious winds blowing in the Southern Hemisphere, between the latitudes of 40 and 50 degrees. Well-known by sailors for as long as boats have sailed in these waters, the Roaring Forties are both feared and valued for the speed at which they allow ships to travel around the world. The latitude was emphasized again by Buckminster Fuller, whose concept of the “Great Pirate” made reference to the first people to master navigation at sea, and their idea of an expanded consciousnesses, in which they were able to envision the world through a comprehensive knowledge of it, as well as the technical skills for how to get there.
Ayed’s work seems to echo this notion, but places it on a human scale, perhaps drawing on the idea of humanity’s new globalized awareness as facilitated by the internet, or perhaps turning the notion of navigable space inwards, creating a notion of the world in this same sense as that of the early sea-farers. Yet instead of a boat, the world has turned towards the interconnected network of data systems and computers, cameras and smartphones that facilitate a sense of being everywhere simultaneously. The concept of navigation finds echoes in that of the “browser,” even, and the user as a new type of navigator, pressing outwards to find new lands and vistas.
The show is on view through January 30th, and is also on now online.
– D. Creahan
Alex Ayed at Balice Hertling [Exhibition Site]