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Flotsam and Jetsam (the end of the game)

Mark Dion

Solo exhibition

8 September – 15 October 1995
Vleeshal (Map)

Curator: Lex ter Braak

Mark Dion,'Flotsam and Jetsam (the end of the game)', 1995. Exhibition overview. | Flotsam and Jetsam (the end of the game) | Mark Dion

Against a dark, thundering sky, stranded in sand, sea shells, tar, rotten wood and a beaten-down helmet, lies a fishing boat in the Vleeshal. It rises halfway up in a desperate attempt to get back to life, but this seems in vain. The stage upon which the ship rests betrays the brief illusion of the theater: the rocks are made of paper, the fish of plastic, the wind comes from a fan and the ocean sounds from an old record player. The night sky is painted, the lighting deliberate and the threat artificial.

But the smell of the sea is in the air, as real as the sand, the wood, the industrial waste and the ship itself. Here, among the artificial, a once-existent world has perished: an old, perhaps partially imaginary world of a clean sea, peaceful fisherman’s villages, people repairing their nets.

A romantic ideal of harmony, unity and innocence that has suffered shipwreckage on the cliffs of time and now falls into a chasm of eternal desire. It will stay in the dream of the golden age of the Greeks, the ruin paintings from the romantic period and the seductive patina of the past.

In his setting and naming (Middelburg, New Bedford), the work also refers to the lost fishing history of Zeeland and the birthplace of the artist. Industrialization, fishery treaties, international competition and a changing economy have left indelible traces, and changed a traditional way of life in profound ways.