Crucible Steel Gallery
San Francisco, CA
Collaboration with composer Marilyn Hudson. Sound Sculpture installation and performance where abandoned boats were converted into stringed and percussive instruments, a reclamation project symbolizing transformation and rebirth. In derelict boats we saw the possibility of rebirth into vessels of beautiful sound.
Musicians Mark Alburger, Opie Bellas, Jeff Nathanson, Ralph Prince and others contributed instrumentally and vocally. Alburger, also a composer, lent his talents. The artists also invited audience members to participate at given intervals. The public was invited to play the boats.
The installation featured four boats. From these unconventional musical materials, we transformed discarded objects into something of value. Apart from their sheer sculptural presence, the boats brought forth sound that ranged from the haunting and surreal to the twangy, folksiness of a slide guitar.
The sound quality of these transformed castoffs combined well with their suitability as a metaphor for the project theme—abandonment and rebirth. This dual potential had kept us interested in the project for the five years that it took to gather our collection.
We constructed a half-hour performance to dramatize the stages of abandonment, recovery and rebirth, revealing glimpses of the our autobiographical connection to the message of the piece—childhoods (and subsequent adulthoods) shaped by adoption, divorce, and the death of one or more parents. This universal theme resonated with many who came in contact with our work.
Of the Jewish faith, I chose to recite the mourner’s kaddish as part of the performance. That emotional moment, in addition to the candle ritual, brought some audience members to tears.
Two 8-foot dinghies and a 12-foot sailboard were converted into stringed instruments with piano wire and guitar strings. Fitted with rawhide frame drums and a bamboo “marimba”, a canoe doubled as a percussion instrument and an object for dragging across a gravel pile.