Date of Submission

Spring 2011

Academic Program

Film and Electronic Arts


Les Leveque

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Like an elephant trodding to that legendary burial ground, I head back to the dark places too; the hidden places. That’s where you can find all the valuable ivory among all that rot and bones. George Kuchar It's easy to tell a story, but how to show a story without telling, and without implying or imposing linearity where there is none? ± ∞ Man ∫ [0]-[0] is my attempt to dismantle the "history" that aims to explain the lives and ends of Arthur Cravan, Donald Crowhurst, and Bas Jan Ader. Their stories are superficially similar: all three men wanted more than the world they knew could give them, so they searched unsuccessfully (or perhaps not? my installation asks) for the missing element in the vast emptiness of the sea. Curiosity and affinity spurred my research, but the more I uncovered about the realities of the central characters, the less I understood. So I left behind the specifics of their stories to focus on the connections that persisted beyond the murky morass of factual knowledge. The players were just men until their bodies disappeared; without a body to hang them on, the facts of each of their lives dissolved into myth, into empty vessels adrift on the waves, into the dreams they left behind. This historical dead zone paradoxically became the fertile ground on which I set to explore the overlap among Cravan, Crowhurst and Ader's motivations and universal desire, fueled by imagination and the words and works they left behind. With this approach new forms for (re)presenting their stories opened up to me. Any attempt at traditional narrative would be a false history, so I created an installation that mimics the frustrating reality of trying to make sense of the past. At the exhibit's center I present the viewer with a library of documentation, of evidence, as it were, so that he or she may sort through the crumbs of these stories; this exercise and the fragmented nature of the show as a whole challenges the authoritarian view of history.

± ∞ Man ∫ [0]-[0] is part creative and part curatorial, reflecting the contemporary condition of time dilation that comes with increased access (or the illusion of such) to the mysterious past. On a more personal level, the show's duality is a way to consider the roles of the student and the artist, and a way to control the context of my own work by setting it against and amongst a selected slice of reality.

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