Guppy 13 vs Ocean Wave; a Bas Jan Ader Experience
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The Guppy 13 is one of the smallest sailing boats in the world, and only 300 were made between 1974 and 1975. The Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader wanted to cross the Atlantic on one of these boats, called the Ocean Wave. He left from Cape Cod on 9 July 1975, but after three weeks radio contact with him broke down. Nine months later his boat was found unmanned by a Spanish fishing boat, about 240 kilometres from the Irish coast. Ader’s body was never found. The boat was taken to La Coruña in Spain for further investigation. A few weeks later the boat was stolen and it has never been found.
Never arriving in a place inspired the Kurdish-Turkish artist Ahmet Ögüt, who works in Amsterdam, to create the work ‘Guppy 13 vs Ocean Wave; a Bas Jan Ader Experience’. In 2010 Ögüt invited the public to sit on a Guppy 13 sailing boat for a few minutes on the IJ, to experience what Bas Jan Ader must have felt like at sea. The only rule was that the members of the public had to get on the boat by themselves. The video is a fictitious documentary in which the Guppy 13 sails backwards with a different person on the boat every time. The music ‘A life on the ocean wave’ (published 1838) was composed by Henry Russel, and is played backwards. It was part of Bas Jan Ader’s last project. The video is actually a trip backwards in time.
The disappearance of Ögüt’s boat was very curious. In fact the Guppy 13 was stolen in Amsterdam after six weeks, but it was found again four months later.
- Exhibition text 2013 -
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