Ghost (2010 – ongoing) [ project with Groundwork, Cornwall, 2018 ]
Alaskan yellow cedar, western red cedar, Fijian mahogany, oak, ash, olive, walnut, and mixed media.
23” h x 31” w x 22’ l
[sculpture, performance, sustained process, and video]
In 2018: Ghost process and exhibitions, commissioned by Groundwork
Ghost is a kayak; a sculpture, designed by Adam Chodzko, as vessel, coffin, bed, costume and camera rig. It is designed to ferry people to the ‘island of the dead’, with a paddler at the stern and a passenger lying down low and flat within a cockpit towards the bows, like a body in a coffin with their head slightly raised, travelling along the interface between water and sky. This dome in the deck of the kayak separates them physically and visually from the paddler at the back. The paddler and passenger experience the journey in silence, in order to allow space for perception. A camera, mounted on Ghost‘s deck, records each unique voyage, the passengers’ point of view, structured as a memory or dream, monitoring the often awkward (shallow, partially concealed) littoral environment.
Ghost is a sustained methodological process with the ‘island of the dead’ acting as a frame for the passenger’s experience of their voyage and the potential for transformation within this encounter. It could be the perception of external evidence of entropy, stagnation, pollution, climate change or historical change. Equally, it could be focussed on internal experiences of liminality through Ghost (as object and process) suspending a series of states and elements in close relation to each other in order to allow the observations of their divisions and flux (such as between sleeping and waking, living and dying, water and air, object and event, myth and reality, the trust between guide and passenger, activity and passivity, stasis and journey and the notion of place) and the perception of our selves, in the present, somewhere within these flows. Through ritualising the Ghost journey, from the interactions based on the role of the gift (the offer of a physical sensory experience produced by physical labour, in exchange for both participation and passivity from the passenger) as well as all the various encounters between artist and viewer that the project unfolds, the Ghost process tries to examine the different fluid networks of consciousness between maker, guide, subject, object, viewer and receiver.
First exhibited in the Whitstable Biennale in 2010, Ghost has since taken hundreds of passengers, travelling along the River Medway and the River Tamar, through the Olympic Park, London, along the Tyne and in creeks through Essex. In each location diverse members of the public are invited to travel in Ghost, ranging from school children to people suffering from insomnia. Advertisements in local papers and door-to-door flyering of a community (such as in Carnon Downs, Feock, near Truro in June 2018) are some of the ways Chodzko finds passengers for these journeys. Participants in 2018 included the Furry Youth Club, Helston, artist Jonty Lees and the pupils of Pool Academy, mental health workers from Carrick Mind as well as international artists and curators, a cultural geographer, a choreographer and writers from the Financial Times and i newspaper.
During exhibitions Ghost appears and disappears from the exhibition space in order to be used on water, returning to be suspended in the gallery space with mud, small scratches and the trace from water droplets on its hull . The marks it accumulates from this usage act as a further record of its activity. In Cornwall Ghost was exhibited in May, 2018, in the beautiful small church of St Anthony-in-Meneage, near Manaccan on the Lizard and in September, in the Helston Town Band Room, along with footage recorded on voyages along the Helford River and Frenchman’s Creek, Gillan Creek from St Anthony, Restronguet Creek from Point, and the River Fowey from Golant. These recordings of imagery and sound (from inside Ghost and beneath the water using hydrophones) are edited to convey the layers of experiences of each passage, through different moments of time, tide, weather, season and light and the particularity of Ghost’s (and its passengers’) flowing encounters with the complexities of a place.
The four videos installed with Ghost in Helston Town Band Room, Cornwall:
Ghost Archive (VII)
Helford River from Helston and Frenchman’s Creek
Date: April-May 2018
18 mins 16 secs
Ghost Archive (VIII)
Gillan Creek from St Anthony, Lizard
17 mins 16 secs
Ghost Archive (IX)
River Fowey and Penpoll Creek from Golant.
15 mins 09 secs
Ghost Archive (X)
Restronguet Creek and River Kennall, from Point.
11 mins 52 secs
A further event, in September 2018, a collaboration with artist, Abigail Reynolds, and a performance by the St Keverne Band on Tremayne Quay, involved the singer, Katie Kirk singing from Ghost whilst being paddled through the audience’s boats floating on the Helford
Further voyages in September 2018 explored Blackpool Pit (a site of China Clay Industry extraction) near St Austell, the Tresillian River from Tresilian to Malpas, the Helford River from Gweek to Helston, the River Fowey from Lostwithiel to Golant, and Trevassack Quarry.
The Ghost project in Cornwall explored, with passengers, the visual signs of human activity within a water’s littoral zone (the industrial, particularly the China Clay Industry, agricultural, tourism, land ownership etc) as well as the possible absences of these signs. The process questioned the potential for enhanced states of perception of these sites through the experiences of: flow, passivity, activity, acoustic resonance via the hull, of care and guidance and trust , of being suspended and of swaying within fluid, all of these collectively producing, temporarily, a particular (and unique) state of being. This state appears to be drawing together a dissolution of the differences between what is perceived and our sense of self and more specifically for those suffering from insomnia; an externalised expression of a state of mind and body.
Further research on the use of Ghost will range from the passenger’s experience in terms of the amniotic to ideas of the cinematic with paddle strokes functioning as ‘edits’. A series of small objects made by Chodzko (eg; including a series of fired porcelain ‘blobs’ made in collaboration with artist Rosanna Martin ) to be held in both hands by passengers during their journeys explores their haptic influence on the bodily experience of flowing through a landscape.
In an online text, Clay Gut Landscaping, Chodzko proposed notions of embodiment within the Cornish ground; of ‘becoming landscape, internally’ in relation to encounters with the current state of Cornwall’s China Clay industry and formed part of the initial thinking for the Cornish Ghost journeys.
Photography by Steve Tanner