Offshoring Pathways (2014)

Plexiglass, copper wires, sodium nitrate, water, electricity 122 x 198 x 8 cm

Full Description

Offshoring Pathways is an installation that contains a solution of water, sodium nitrate and alkanes, with positively and negatively electrified copper wires representing the maritime routes of Peking to and from Northern Chile. As the solution evaporates, the drawing (made of saltpeter crystals) slowly appears in the pool (it takes 7 to 14 days for the solution to evaporate completely). Copper wires slowly dissolve into the solution, colouring the ocean region with blue-green while the South American continent takes on the black colour.

The artwork is best appreciated on a time span of one week, when slow changes due to saltpeter evaporation and dissolving copper (not perceptible during a single visit) morph the crystal drawing into different configurations of its elements. The rich texture of the crystal drawing witnesses the grand and powerful energy configuration of the saltpeter zeitgeist: the ripples left on the Ocean surface by the Peking wake, the wind force over the ocean, the power of the sodium nitrate chemical bonds and the importance it had in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Exhibited at El Museo de Los Sures, New York

Support has been provided by the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP), the Governing Mayor of Berlin; Institut für Auslandbeziehungen (IFA), Stuttgart; New York City Council Office District 34; the Milton and Sally Avery Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Artist Statement

The Flying P-liner Peking is one of the largest sailing vessels ever built. She carries a visual and historical heritage of well-known shipping routes that ran Chilean Saltpeter (sodium nitrate) by daring navigators sailing to cross, powered only by the wind, the challenging Cape Horn. Currently moored at the South Street Seaport Museum in Lower Manhattan, she carved such wakes for approximately a half century, before the Panama Canal was open, making the Cape Horn route obsolete; before steam engine replaced wind-powered vessels, making sailing navigation impractical; and before the discovery of the Haber process for the synthetic production of Chile Saltpeter (NaNO3), causing the decadence of saltpeter mining in Atacama.

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