Close To The Water

Close To The Water was intended to be a collaborative performance for ‘Of Whirlpools and Tornados' by me, as an active rower as well as curator and artist, with the Linz Rowing Club on the River Danube. It seemed interesting to place a very physical connection with the water into the context of art meeting radical openness which is questioning how much more digital we need to be.

The development of fast, light boats for the sport of rowing follows a parallel path with the history of capitalism, with, for example the development of faster and faster sailing clippers to beat the opposition to the market. As Virillio said “The invention of the ship was also the invention of the shipwreck”.

The technology for the single sculling boat, which I would have rowed for the performance, before the lockdown, is designed to go ever faster and is considered Western, although the outriggers are stolen  from thousand year old Pacific island technology. We can also compare the light rowing boat used in competitions with the fragile craft used by refugees to try to get to Europe.

As my now-digital contribution, I will fragment some images and texts from a community project I am developing called ‘Wild Rowing’ and intersperse these with video clips from a live performance of Close To The Water in 2018 on the River Aura for New Performance Turku where I delivered a lecture to an audience on a floating bridge, battered by wind and waves, while balancing one of these fragile sculling boats.

If you let go of the oars of a boat like this you fall in. It might be reasonable to say this civilisation may have 'let go of the oars'.


Lightning Talks