Bas Jan Ader
I recently finished In Search of the Miraculous by Bas Jan Ader and it really is a must read for anyone, not just for those who are interested in conceptual art. In Search for the Miraculous is the realisation of an idea, an idea of the romantic tragic hero on a quest for the sublime. Ader deconstructs every possible element of the idea of finding the sublime, boiling it down to one individual who is silent and alone, an individual who has reached the limits of society and culture, an individual who wants to reach the sublime by travelling across the ocean on a boast by himself. Ader puts this idea into practice though a series of performances documented through photographs, ultimately leading to the solo boat journey. The presentation of In Search of the Miraculous is extremely minimal all excess information is stripped away from the idea, from a conceptual point of view Ader simply plays a role in order to realise an idea which I guess is why he is barely visible in all of the photographs which document his the time running up to the ocean crossing. The idea of the romantic tragic hero in search of the sublime by setting off on a journey to find himself is exactly that romantic but what is different about this story is that it ended in such a tragic way, the crossing ended three weeks at sea when radio contact with Ader’s boast was lost. In 1976 its wreck was discovered off of the Irish coast, Ader himself was missing and his body was never found. “Thirty years after artist Bas Jan Ader failed to return from a solo crossing of the Atlantic, the interest in his work continues to grow. In less than ten years he created some thirty-five works of art in which falling, physical and emotional vulnerability and mortality are the central themes.” The way in which Ader documented his work through photography and facts is just as current and succesful now as it was thirty years ago. Ultimately Ader’s life ended in such a tragic way but his art is still being discussed today, making him a hero is every way possible.