Bette Davis and Lillian Gish are both a little over a million years old in the film The Whales of August, and they have spent each one of those million-plus summers on the craggy coast of Maine. It’s understood this will be the last summer anywhere for Davis’ wheelchair bound and bitter character. The accommodating Gish glides her around the family beach house and brushes her vaporous cloud of white hair. In the culminating moment of the film, the sisters have gone out to the edge of a cliff to witness the migrating whales one last time. But the whales don’t go by this year. They just… don’t. Davis raises her shaky hands in protest and, fighting back angry tears, pronounces sternly, “Life fools you. It always fools you.”
It is a petrifying scene. They are gentle (albeit cranky, in Davis’ case) old ladies in cotton dresses and sun hats against the backdrop of a calm ocean, and it’s as sublimely terrifying as any Ridley Scott moment. Wayfarers’ summer exhibition takes its name from the film, and we are excited to present works by four artists whose work employs similar foils and contradictions. Each of them is working with oceanic themes or imagery and each employs a delicate and fastidious craft in the development of these images or objects. But the measured control inherent to their respective processes belies the epic and uncontainable mystery of The Ocean and its allegorical counterparts – the unconscious, the unknowable, the beginning of us and the end.
Lorna Barrowclough, based in Leeds, England, is exhibiting 100 ornately adorned individual oyster shells, which represent a significant excerpt from a series she originally developed as part of a sculptural performance called A bed, a knot, a charm – fanciful coquilles. She describes the significance of the oyster shell as an object that made fortunes, gave livelihoods and in many ways catalyzed social integration through the simple act of consumption. Lorna’s ‘fanciful coquilles’ are delicately beaded with circular patterns, alluding to the wondrous “Shell Grottos” that dot the UK.
Or, Some of the Whale is a project that Joy Drury Cox began in 2013 with a small publication featuring four chapters of Moby Dick: The Ship, The Chart, The Line, and The Hat. For each chapter, she drew only the commas from the original book pages. Over the course of the past year, she has drawn every comma on every page of Melville's classic novel. For The Whales of August, the artist has selected a few chapters to show off the larger project. Each tiny comma becomes a point of pause in the larger constellation of the page's punctuation. The full project will be on display at Launch F18 in New York City in September 2014. Joy is currently living and working in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
For Hondartza Fraga, the sea stands in for everything that is remote to us. Her most recent work explores whales, whale carcasses, and the place of these great mammals in the human imagination. For this exhibition at Wayfarers, she will be presenting several prints of finely drafted, tiny pencil renderings based on found images of beached whales, shipwrecks and other scenes at sea. In them, the body of the whale often functions as a landscape for other events, conflating the miniature in our eye with the gigantic in our mind. Hondartza was born in Cabanas, A Coruña, Spain and is currently a studio holder at Patrick Studios (East Street Arts) in Leeds, England.
David (Scout) McQueen will be showing sculptural pieces that hang on the wall but are essentially miniature wooden floors. In each of these pieces from McQueen’s series unsettling, the carefully laid floorboards seem to be reshaping themselves into something else. According to the artist, “It is not an aggressive rise, there is no violence; it is a graceful rejection of its flatness.” The boards appear to be the fluid surface of a body of water, yielding to the object – a boat, a life preserver - that is floating beneath them. David (Scout) McQueen is a Brooklyn-based sculptor and one of Wayfarers’ board members. His solo exhibition, a once imagined ocean, opens at Kim Foster Gallery in Manhattan in September 2014.