Intern Hannah Mandel interviews Marie Lorenz
Q: The first question I have in viewing your work is to ask your opinion on Bas Jan Ader's In Search of the Miraculous. I'm sure you've spent a lot of time discussing this piece and how it relates to your work, and in a way, I almost see what you're doing as a kind of recognition of the qualities of the sea that Ader was trying to highlight in that work, but instead of giving yourself to the impossibility of the water, you are harnessing and accepting its constraints.
Marie Lorenz: I love that piece of course: how heartbreaking it is, and how unresolved. My work must seem so chatty in comparison. My web-journal of the Tide and Current Taxi has all these bright pictures of people having fun. But I guess I am always looking for ways to tap into that morose longing that the sea inspires. If one of my passengers says anything remotely gloomy or if our conversation turns to death or fear when we are out in the boat, you can be sure that I will work it into the story that I tell about it online. There is one piece that I made that I have always though about it relation to In Search of the Miraculous and that is this video I made a few years ago called Capsize. I made it sort of accidentally when I was testing out a sailboat that I made off the coast of Italy. I was drawn out to sea by the wind and ended up having to swim back to shore when the boat capsized. I want to make more videos like this- from the perspective of a person at sea, but in the city.
Bas Jan Ader, In Search of the Miraculous, 1975 (http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=10792)
Marie Lorenz, Capsize, 2010 (http://vimeo.com/19309634)
Q: From teaching sailing I know that spending time on a boat with a small group of people leads to a certain bond- you are all somewhat reliant and trapped with one another. How do you think this notion- in all it's connotations- romantic, terrifying and cathartic, has affected your process?
M.L: The desire to tell a story about that relationship- the one between me and the people stuck in the boat- is what the Tide and Current Taxi project is really about. Sometimes people as me if it is weird to be stuck with a stranger for so long (sometimes 6 hours or even longer). But the thing that happens, and is so reliant, is that we immediately begin to work toward this sort of absurd goal (getting the tide to take us somewhere in the city) and we are instantly bound in our determination. We are talking the whole time about these very practical things (can you move a little to the left, watch out for that branch, etc) and then some very personal things start to surface. It is always fascinating and that is what I try and write the web-journal about.
Marie Lorenz, Tide and Current Taxi (www.tideandcurrenttaxi.org)
Q: I noticed you went to RISD. I'm not sure how much time you've spent around Rhode Island, but if you sailed there, you must know that there's an odd culture surrounding it- sailing is historically a hobby reserved for the very rich or fisherman, and there's not a lot of leeway either way. How has the boating culture of Rhode Island affected your work, as well as the sociopolitical issues surrounding sailing?
M.L: Well, Providence is where it all started really. But not with sailing. When I was a freshman at RISD, I started making little rowboats to travel in the canals, which were muddy ditches back then during the reconstruction of the downtown "waterfront district". It was a fascinating time to be in school there, the whole downtown was being ripped up and I used to make these tiny boats and explore tunnels that went under the city. I didn't make a sailboat until I was in Rome. My dad took me sailing as a kid, but in rented boats at marinas operated by the military (he was in the Marine Corps) so my exposure to it was not as class oriented. I do have a sense of the culture that you are talking about, but I think that making the boats I used myself was always a way to invent my own context. For instance, I didn't like the way canoes or kayaks looked- too sporty or something, so I made things that were less recognizable.
Marie Lorenz, Islip, 2008 (http://www.tideandcurrenttaxi.org/?page_id=1467)
Q: How separate do you view your boatbuilding endeavors and your projects? I know in Islip you built a boat that incorporated drawings. I would imagine that the stringency of boat building- the need for adherence to physics, etc, would hinder your creativity. Is this true?
M.L: My process making the boats is not very stringent. (probably why the one sailboat that I made was ripped up by the wind!) I use plywood and fiber-glass, and I end up repairing the boats every year. For me the interest lies not in the boat making itself but in what I actually do with the boats. I think your previous question made me realize that making the boats was initially w away to make up a context from scratch. I used to design them all myself, but when I started using fiber-glass I started working from existing plans. I alter the plans a bit but not in the overall shape, I alter the materials to make the boat lighter (also cheaper and easier to build). I did go to boat building school after RISD- the Arques school is Sausalito. But if they saw the boats I made now I'm sure they would be horrified. They mill their own timber and use hand tools for almost everything. It gave me a tremendous respect for the craft but I don't do anything the 'right' way now.
Be sure to check out DAC's Missing library exhibition, organized by Annie Shaw, with participants Jen Kennedy, Liz Linden, Marie Lorenz, Michelle Rosenberg and Angie Waller.