ENDGAME is a large-scale sculpture of a Swordfish and a Man, freeze-framed at the apex moment of a battle, or a dance. The Swordfish's spear has pierced the chest of the man, while the Man holds a spear which has similarly pierced the body of the Swordfish. Their eyes are locked.
ENDGAME will be fabricated from steel and aluminum. The figures arise from a base of two abstract waves which are almost crashing together. The only point of connection between the waves and the figures is the tail of the fish. The space between the waves can be entered by the public. From certain angles these waves mimic a mouth or a vagina, the great female ocean birthing (or swallowing) the combating male figures. The man will be supported in space by the two piercing spears, which will be steel or stainless steel and part of the internal steel structure. The eye-lines of the figures will be locked on each other. The poses of the figures will suggest conflict, but also dance.
What is the philosophy of your piece?:
The image of this sculpture came to me in a flash of inspiration, and as such I have been somewhat reluctant to parse its meaning, preferring - on a certain level anyway - to let its power emanate from a place of un-analyzed subconsciousness. But OK, all that aside, several meanings do emerge without much effort, the most obvious of which is the dependence of man on the natural world, which he (we) short-sightedly despoil, to our own peril. We think we control nature, yet we are locked in a dance with it, our fortunes tied together in ways we don't always see. Both these figures are apex predators. Each fights for survival, imagining that the only way forward is to kill the other. But their individual gazes, locked on each other, suggest not only a dim awareness of their common ancestors, but also of the common cause they must share if a holistic future is to be forged. Also suggested is the flash of awakening.. satori.. being stabbed in the chest.. something only a swordfish could do!
ENDGAME will be climbable (to a point... the figures will be off limits). When weather and temperature variables are agreeable, the gently sloping upward incline of the larger wave will provide a place for sitting or lounging. The interior cavern-like space created by the two waves will be accessible to the public. By squeezing between the waves, one will enter an intimate space which is protected from the outside world, and which will give unique views of the sculptural elements above. On an intellectually interactive level, the sculpture will also force participants to confront dualities of beauty and danger, male and female, life and death, harmony and discord, and the important question of whether there is any sensible endgame which could possibly result from violence and enmity.
Christina also submitted a proposal this year. My first hope was that both of our proposals would be funded. Christina has not been funded by Burning Man in a few years, so my second hope for this year was that, if only one of us were to be funded, it would be her... because, as my friend Richard said, "Artists need that kind of validation." Well I got my second wish. My project will not be funded, but hers will.
I'm very happy for her. It does mean that we will be going back to Burning Man, and taking Kodiak back for his fourth time. It's a good thing for Christina, and it will be a good thing for the event, because her proposal is very strong.
I find I am taking this rejection pretty well, all things considered. I've said several times that I believe in this piece so much that, even if it wasn't funded, I would build it anyway. At this moment, still only a matter of hours after reading the email, I'm not sure what form that might take, what scale... or what material.
But it's still a rejection, and I guess that is not easy. Maybe the message was too dark. Maybe the granting committee felt they should only fund one proposal from our family... I really have no idea if they make considerations like those. Maybe they want to "change things up" a bit, not funding the same people over and over again (although I can certainly think of several artists who are funded repeatedly.) Burning Man used to make a point of distinguishing themselves from other granting bodies by promising to give feedback to rejected proposals explaining their decision, with the idea that this kind of feedback can be helpful to the artists... and I couldn't agree more that it's useful to hear that kind of feedback. But as far as I know they no longer make that promise; it's been many years and several rejections since I have heard their reasons. I would love to know.
(I should do a blog post of all my rejected proposals. Otherwise they are just lost in my hard drive... and if my computer should fail one day, then lost forever...)
I did make a pretty nice model of ENDGAME (which is the basis for the image above.) A video of the model can be seen HERE. It has occurred to me to re-work certain elements of this model and call it a sculpture, in and of itself.
Anyway, more time for painting and other sculptures. The gallery owner down in Santa Fe showing Big Mother has encouraged me to build more pieces like that one, which gives me a nice nudge in a certain direction. Maybe this is the push I need to start making things I could actually sell... what an idea!