Installation views:Jiang Wenyi (蒋文奕)
on-site with audience: umeng
Invocation of a Wandering Lake, 2016, 12 minutes
Newfoundland is the eastern most point of North America. Fogo Island is an old fishing island. Since the 1991 moratorium on cod, people do not fish for money there anymore. The lack of industry has be recently replaced with an attempt to create a new economy in the form of an art residency and art tourism, with the idea that one can lead with the arts and economy will follow. The location is interesting to me because if you have read Cod a biography, you’ll know that the waters off Newfoundland is where the basque came to fish for cod in the 1400s. It was their secret fishing grounds that they didn’t want to tell anyone about because they were afraid others follow. But the new world would not be a secret for long. A few days before I arrived in Fogo, a dead sperm whale washed up to the shore. Actually the head was lodged onto some rocks but its body flowed freely with the waves. The weather was really bad for the entire first week I was there in the end of June. Rain and wind every day. The first clear day that came, I decided to walk across the island, we lived in the middle of the island, and I decided to walk 11 miles to the other end. At the end of my walk I thought that I wanted to wash the dead whale. It was about 30 feet long, probably a young male. Seeing it from the edge of the rocks and being in the water with it was a very different experience. I had never been in the water with such a large dead being before. I’d never seen anything so large and dead before. The sense of humanity was overwhelming. the sense of a sorrow or indescribable emptiness. Washing the body of the deceased is practice as a form of purifying the body to prepare it for the next stage. This ablution occurs in many religions, Judaism, Hinduism. It is a form of care and connecting while at the same time a letting go. The daily ritual of cleaning allows for a mourning or honoring in our everyday life.