Project 4: The Road

Itinerancy: Notes on Chapter “Room 7: Itinerancy (pp. 148-163, Dean and Millar, Place)

  • Generally, the projects detailed in this chapter touch on the concept of (subtle) movement or gestures as (metaphorical or literal) journey.
  • While I really enjoyed the part of this course where we looked at the Hero’s Journey, I didn’t find the intersection of time, place and journey concepts in the texts within this chapter particularly insightful, nor was I moved by the project-examples.
  • With the exception of Janet Cardiff’s mysterious audio-walks, a lot of the work felt too literal; for me, there’s a guesswork, open-ended story-like element that I’m always seeking in my experience of art. If I can’t insert my own story/interpretation into a suggested textual/artistic narrative (and thereby relate to it) the work doesn’t appeal to me on an emotional level. I also appreciate the question mark that follows my interpretation. I suppose I’m seeking work that evolves with time (imaginatively).
  • I’ve also realized that beauty (of an impossible-to-define but very personal nature) in art matters to me. Contemporary art really frees itself of these types of traditional art values (which is great and leads to lots of interesting creation that opens onto other values), so I often have to work pretty hard to appreciate it.
  • It’s important for me to explore why I resist/dislike some artwork, and I’m discovering patterns in my taste and having to revisit/rethink ideas and values I articulated in Part One of this course.
  • For each of the works detailed in Chapter “Room 7: Itinerancy,” I wrote out notes in my learning log explaining the “what” about the work, and the thinking I had about it. Following an exchange with my tutor, I didn’t seek to like things I didn’t like; I sought to understand why I didn’t like a thing.

Notes re: Francis Alÿs When Faith Moves Mountains (2002) and Janet Cardiff’s The Missing Voice (case study b) (2000).


Notes re: Rirkrit Tiravanja’s Untitled (Demo Station no.3) (2002) and Tacita Dean’s Unmade Project.


Notes re: Shimabaku’s Cucumber Journey (2000)


How do time, place and journey have an impact on this work?

What stands out most is Shimabuku’s peaceful relationship to time: he’s stretching it out, savouring it, using it deliberately to make this intentionally slow project. It’s such a contrast from the speaker in Fern Hill‘s finally mournful relationship to time. For Shimabuku, time affords us the luxury of journey, observation, transformation, and of course these notions inform his broader reflections about boat travel and pickle-making.

Place & Journey
Place in this piece is literally and figuratively slippery. The artist is contained on an old-fashioned boat, while he and his soon-to-be pickles remain, in some sense, stationary. the boat (and the cucumbers) moves relatively slowly through water, nevertheless going somewhere. Place is not fixed in this piece; the artist seems very much at home with the journey. Everything he touches on in the text documenting his work speaks to subtle change: fresh vegetables become pickles; one city (in a sense) becomes another city; a body expands to accommodate a different cuisine; two boat travelers and the artist are informed by their daily exchanges (of a cultural, historical, art-philosophical nature).  In spite of all this subtle fluidity and transformation, the physical space of the boat is specific and rather essential to the realization of the project. Again, place here is the subtle journey: both observed and inhabited.

Overall connection to my own practice:

Being presented with work that I otherwise wouldn’t be likely to encounter or even approach in a sincere spirit of curiosity is good for me, because:

  • I say to myself, “Look at this artist. S/he had an idea and she did it.” A thing was made. Whether or not I like the thing, it was made (or unmade, and yet honored, in the case of Tacita Dean’s post-earthquake photo exposition) and called art. It reminds me that my ideas don’t have to be perfect or earth-shattering to be worth seeing through to fruition.
  • It reveals to me movements and genres and ways of expressing that I hadn’t ever considered.
  • It pushes me to articulate what I’m seeking, aesthetically and emotionally, when I “consume” art.

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