It Won’t Be Long Now (chap. 2)
Curator : Anna Milone
Saturday the 13th December 2014, 5p.m - 7p.m :
Launch of Staging Interruptions (Stream of Life), a magazine edited by Mary Rinebold designed by Maria Eisl, based on the exhibition “Staging Interruptions (Stream of Life)” (curators : Sarina Basta & Mary Rinebold), Southard Reid, London (January 2014).
In It Won’t Be Long Now, Nicolas Garait-Leavenworth presents a three-part journey. The centre of the triptych (Chapter 2) recounts the crossing of the North Pacific in May 2014 aboard a container ship, from Hong Kong to Los Angeles. A journey stretched in time, symbolising the acceleration of our era but also the true face of a world the consequences of which are still unknown. Halfway between fiction and documentary, Garait-Leavenworth develops his journey into an installation assembling source material, clues, photographs and press cuttings that accompany videos combining images captured during his trip with feature film extracts. It Won’t Be Long Now (chap. 2) opens with a décor inspired by Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love and ends in Los Angeles with a series of photograms overlayed with quotes taken from Héctor Tobar’s The Barbarian Nurseries and Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch.
This project was selected and supported by the sponsorship committee of the Fondation Nationale des Arts Graphiques et Plastiques.
Chapter 1: Shanghai – Macau – Hong Kong.
Chapter 2: North Pacific Ocean.
Chapter 3: Los Angeles – Las Vegas – New York.
Or how to fold a world map along the international date line in order to identify its counterparts.
6th August 2013: death of Allan Sekula.
Or how the shift of power is taking place from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
13th April 2014: departure to Shanghai.
Eastern production, western consumption: or how 90% of the world’s trade is carried by sea.
27th April 2014: departure from Hong Kong aboard the Ever Champion container ship – 340m long, 43m wide, weighing about 100 000 tonnes, maximum load of 6000 containers filled with unknown cargo, flying the flag of Germany, chartered by the Evergreen Marine Corporation (Taiwan), going at an average speed of 18 nautical knots (about 33km/h). Four officers (three Germans, one Polish man), eighteen crewmembers, all Filipinos; a passenger, described as “supernumerary”. An antiquated and fragile technology (some diesel and a propeller; standardized 20, 40 and 45 ft. containers).
14th May 2014: arrival in Los Angeles
Or how space is at stake, how it alters itself, how it shapes us.
29th May 2014: departure from New York
Or how to go from a mere décor to the hyper-reality of a transactional architecture – from the deliquescence and gradual dissolution of a former colony to that of a casino floor.
Or how about exploring the world of tomorrow and its invisible face; how to be really part of it.
The project takes its title from a poster glimpsed in an episode of The Leftovers.
Nicolas Garait-Leavenworth, November 2014
It was a time of down-market plenty in Huntington Park thanks to second mortgages and their illusory windfalls and the extra cash on hand from copious overtime working at ports and railyards and wharehouses unloading goods from an Industrial Revolution taking place on the other side of the Pacific.
Héctor Tobar, The Barbarian Nurseries, 2011
History, fiction and space: three elements that can be found in Nicolas Garait-Leavenworth’s work, such as the pieces devoted successively to the New York World's Fair in 1964 (Understanding Through Peace, 2011), to Jean Seberg’s involvement with black communities in Los Angeles (White Dog, 2012) and the flood of consciousness and stories that the Los Angeles river carries (I See A Stream Of Cars Where No Man Has Dared To Drive Before, 2013).
Three elements that mark three chapters of his new project for which he experimented the crossing of the Pacific ocean on a container cargo. Constantly mixing his images with artefacts and literary and cinematographic references, the exhibition It Won’T Be Long Now (Chap.2) is the second chapter of a trilogy that brings the artist from Shanghai, Macao and Hong Kong, to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York, going from one world to another through the “Pacific-facing nations”. After two stops in Taiwan (Kaohsiung and Taiei) to load unknown goods, it takes the artists three weeks to go from Hong Kong to Los Angeles, with full containers that leave the West coast of the United States empty to go back to Asia. The artist needed to get out of his comfort zone to see the machinery of sea freight and its multiple consequences on human and material conditions – a sort of tribute to Allan Sekula’s Fish Story, who passed away in 2013.
The entrance to the gallery becomes that of a container, one of the ones Nicolas Garait-Leavenworth had all the time in the world to observe during his nineteen days as a supernumerary on board the Ever Champion. It opens onto Hong Kong and the work The Commissioner (I watched In The Mood For Love without any subtitles while crossing the Pacific Ocean on a container ship and I unilaterally decided that it took place in 1964 – not 1962 – and that Maggie Cheung was NOT working for a maritime transport company in Hong Kong - but for the Inland Revenue Service), 2014. The scene is set, as a souvenir of a first chapter to come.
Naval maps, regularly amended until they were considered unfit for navigation, are the base of the artwork that gives its name to the exhibition, an accumulation of images and words that show the artist’s frantic research. He places markers in space and in time that are as many clues that are easy to lose sight of. The newspaper cuttings that are scattered across the map are a reference to one of his activities on the boat, that is to say his daily reading from beginning to end of the newspapers bought before his departure (news of a passed future), while having the press collected by others during his travels. He experienced the strange rhythm of the sea, that allowed him to live the 6th of May 2014 twice, a hazard of the 35 km/h race of cargo ships with time zones. These news’ extracts mark the timeline of his trip, each one being taken from a newspaper that was published on a day on which he was on board. His photos of thousands of containers going from more and more automated port structures, to boat decks (and vice versa), dialogue with images taken from series, from Dexter to 24, from All is Lost to Hijacking, via Diamonds are forever or Captain Phillips, references that can be found, altered by a screen, in a film divided into three screenings (as one is never enough to say all, to show all).
The people working on the boat, who are never present in his photos or films, are “passive receivers of late capitalism”. They ship goods from Asia but rush to the shops in Los Angeles, just for the pleasure of being able to say once they are back that they shopped in Hollywood. A reaction to which Héctor Tobar’s quote responds to in It Won’t Be Long Now (The Barbarian Nurseries, Fragment 1), 2014. The artwork closes chapter 2, as if to announce the next part that starts in Los Angeles.