As kids, my sisters and I were masters of the fort. When my parents were looking for a new house, our votes went to the one with the open space under the stairs. What an awesome place to hang blankets from and hide out. Upon moving in, we soon discovered that forting in the aforementioned space was harder that we had originally anticipated. How to get the blankets to stay? Hair-ties? String? The weight of the blankets always seemed to overpower our efforts. And it was dark under there. And cold. We gave it a healthy handful of tries and resumed our forting efforts elsewhere.
Coming home to Florida last month for Christmas, I had a mind to build a fort with my sisters. I had made a brief visit at Thanksgiving, and on a run with my mom at our local beach, had discovered a part of the beach I had never seen before. It wasn’t a secret, or particularly remote. Many families had set up camp for the day with dogs of all shapes and sizes. My relationship with this beach had until now been with a straight shot of coastline, cars dragging alongside. It was our high school hangout, and family retreat when we could make the time to all be in one place. The landscape of the dog beach, a short two miles from our usual haunts, could not be more different. Trees with roots creeping toward the ocean, towering dunes, moguly uneven sand; it was easy to imagine oneself far removed from the social buzz mere moments away.
For some months I had been working with recycled clothing as a means to create rope to be used as an exterior for a series of forts as yet unresolved. As of December I had built teepees in two separate exhibition locations, utilizing the fabric rope – but, viewing these installs as sketches, was still grasping for the appropriate locale.
December 23rd arrived and I piled my car high with rope, setting off for home.
Per usual, there were unexpected difficulties… like the miles of intersecting boardwalk between my car and our intended destination, the weight of the materials we were attempting to transport, and my lack of knowledge of where any path might lead in relation to our ‘spot’. (I had previously accessed our destination from the main beach, on foot.)
I’m not sure if Jackie would agree with me, but the effort was worth it. It brought me back to similar endeavors from our childhood. Games and adventures that laid the groundwork for my current studio practice.
In her short story ‘Ladies and Gentlemen of the Pavement’ Jamie Quatro lays out a future where marathoners are required to carry statues throughout the duration of their race. Most of these statues are crude, heavy, meant to embarrass and encumber their carriers, but a select few are granted the privilege of running with authentic art. I think about this story a lot, and for many reasons, but recently I have been occupied with the definition and implications of authentic art… a vague and subjective label in itself- but one that could mean something more for me personally. In Quatro’s story, the authentic art is heartbreakingly moving. A runner leads another runner – who is failing, on by unzipping his pack and giving her a glimpse of his statue. She can’t look away. She continues on, following. I have been searching for that pull in relation to my own work.
Anyways. We built the fort! In a perfect not-so-secret, secret place. It was hard and it was fun and – all the things. It was fun coming back to it days after the build and “rediscovering” it at high tide. A place within a place, hinting at its origins, but begging for a story.
Sven liked it too.
check out Coastal Forting On The Home Planet here