Anchored Journey: In Between is a time-based installation consisting of 2500 paper boats holding personal writings from the last fifteen years. These objects will be installed across a desert landscape. Anchored Journey: In Between explores the relative nature of time, showing the overlapping and interacting processes of accumulation, growth, decay and change.
This project began one Spring evening in early 2000 in Tuscon, Arizona, when a yellow piece of ruled paper simply fluttered my way and landed at my feet. Mistaking it for one of my own notes that had escaped my bag, I picked it up and unfolded it. The word KEEP was handwritten with black ballpoint pen in large letters across the middle of the page. I was in the process of leaving my studio by the train tracks after a particularly long and frustrating day. Outside dusk was fast approaching. Gazing out to the rails that disappeared into the horizon and then to the left and right across the empty warehouse platform, I was alone. Everything around me seemed still and hushed. I had no idea where the note had come from or who it belonged to, but for some reason, and honestly without too much further thought, I followed that simple instruction and kept it.
Thoughtfully, and maybe wistfully, I started to keep all the various sheets of paper upon which I normally scribbled and, despite living in the desert, folded them into boats. Random thoughts, calculations, to-do lists, research notes, rough drafts of poems, and writings, even intimate letters never sent, are spread across each page; unfiltered words on non-precious materials expressing my thoughts, ambitions, desires and needs, staying confined on the surface and to the form that holds them.
Looking back, my actions make a strange kind of sense. It was a dislocating time, when I had outgrown the type of the work I had been creating. I felt confused on what I was doing and where I was heading. There were many days when I would be at such a loss on how to begin in my studio or what my next steps were, that I would jot down what I did know or needed to say, as a means to try to clear my head and get over my fears.
On some days, these folded pages of jumbled longings and mundane tasks were the only things I created, becoming the sole documentation of creativity, of searching and surviving (sometimes long) periods of artistic drought. This ritual has continued on and off for years, now at least one third of my life. Over this time, the collection has been carted from my various residences and studios, growing in number. It was only in the last few years that I recognized them for the entire body of work they are, a significant symbol of the ephemeral states of being and thinking, of living and making.
It felt important to lay these markers out, to show the collection in a way that gives a shape and structure to the years they represent. It seems fitting to spread the paper vessels out as a fleet on the beautiful high grasslands of the Sonoran desert, near where that first piece of paper floated up to me by chance. Here the sun and monsoons will undo what was created over time: unfold the boats, fade the words, erode and decay the paper. Maybe the wind will scatter a few...and perhaps, one will land at the feet of someone else.
Anchored Journey: In Between will be installed on location May 1st through 7th, 2017, with the generous and kind support of Land With No Name, an art space and residency, located roughly 45 minutes southwest of Tucson. The project will remain visible on the landscape until fully deteriorated. Regional desert wildflower seeds will be planted around the area, marking the site for years to come with their blooms.
Photo Credits: Ted Springer and Emily Nyburg