“In contemporary societies, contemplation—of clouds, the wind, a bird flying overhead, other sensory observations—seems to be only for the dreamer, but in reality, it is what is most essential for anyone living at sea. These elements, which on land would be described as ‘poetic,’ are vital for the sailor. These observations, which herald good or bad weather, or the state of the sea, enable the sailor to live in an environment that is as hostile as it is sublime.” Alex Ayed, May 2023
Farewell is the first part of the Farewell Project, a multi-year, round-the-world sailing expedition. The exhibition presented here marks the launch of the journey. During the four months of this initial voyage, from the North Sea to the Mediterranean, the space of Gallery 8 will constitute the only link with the artist and the sailboat.
Alex Ayed and his crew have set off on a 14-meter steel ketch, now a writing and recording studio in perpetual motion. The data collected* is transmitted to the exhibition space via a custom-designed communication system. Suspended from the center is a 10-meter sculpture, resembling a radio antenna. On the walls, a weather station displays the boat’s GPS position along with the speed and direction of the wind. On the wall, two metal boxes hold envelopes and drawings, organic elements, and ephemeral poems written and sent by the artist from the boat. Through the soundtrack filling the space, we hear the hypnotic sound of the waves lapping the boat and radio chatter. The variations in the lighting offer two experiences of this site-specific installation: during the day, a white, natural light, and at night, a contemplative blue light.
Reflecting the state of the sea, this composition of objects, sounds, and lighting, translates the boat’s environment, and the daily experiences and observations of the artist and his crew while at sea.
Haunted by the elsewhere and driven by a quest for time, Alex Ayed is a traveler who triggers situations and plays with improvisation. He creates evolving works in the form of installations and assemblages, using words and objects collected during his encounters and peregrinations. From the desert to the oceans, his wanderings recall the adventure stories of a certain Romantic tradition, while simultaneously making us more aware of our contemporary societies caught in the grip of acceleration and hyperconnectivity.
An ode to slowness, Farewell is an exhibition in constant flux, its form dictated by the winds and tides.
*Compiled during the voyage, this information, which will contribute to our knowledge of the oceans’ evolution, will be shared with several institutes for the purpose of scientific research.
Curators: Claudia Buizza and Ludovic Delalande
Farewell Project is presented in partnership with the Fondazione Merz and the Frac Pays de la Loire.
Alex Ayed was born in 1989, in France. He lives and works at sea.