Bas Jan Ader from ‘I’m Too Sad To Tell You’ 1971

S+ Stimulant: BAS JAN ADER


“art… is still doubly a servant – to higher aims no doubt, on the one hand, but nonetheless to vacuity and frivolity on the other.” -Underlined quote from Hegel found in Bas Jan Ader’s belongings

* Bastiaan Johan Christiaan “Bas Jan” Ader (born April 19, 1942 Winschoten, The Netherlands – lost at sea in 1975 between Cape Cod, Massachusetts and Ireland) was a conceptual artist, performance artist, photographer and filmmaker. He lived in Los Angeles for the last 10 years of his life. Ader’s work was in many instances presented as photographs and film of his performances. He also made performative installations, including Please Don’t Leave Me (1969).

In 1975, as part of an art performance titled “In Search of the Miraculous”, he attempted a single-handed west-east crossing of the Atlantic in a 13 ft boat, a modified Guppy 13 named “Ocean Wave”.  Radio contact broke off three weeks into the voyage, and Ader was presumed lost at sea. The boat was found after 10 months, floating partially submerged 150 miles West-Southwest of the coast of Ireland. His body was never found. The boat, after being recovered by the Spanish fishing vessel that found it, was taken to Coruña. The boat was later stolen. *

As an introduction to Bas Jan Ader’s compelling body of work, we recommend this videodoc sit-down conversation with the artist’s wife, Mary Sue Andersen. The film “Here Is Always Somewhere Else” is also a fascinating look at the artist and his work. To watch the trailer, please click: HERE. To order the film online, click: HERE.

Much of his work centered on the act of ‘falling’. He created a number of performance videos of himself falling off a roof, from a tree, into a Canal (at Seymour, we like to think of him as the precursor to ‘Jackass’) Was this perhaps a sort of rehearsal for death? Or conversely a celebration of life? Ader himself spoke little of his work and refused to allow it to be characterized: “I do not make body sculpture, body art or body works. When I fell off the roof of my house or into a canal, it was because gravity made itself master over me.”

To us, Bas Jan Ader was simply a man curious about the world he lived in, who explored the laws of physics, of emotion, pushed limits, tested new ideas, in and in doing so created a series of profoundly personal projects. In its purest form, isn’t that all art is?


*text within ** above has been excerpted from Wikipedia.



Published: September 18th, 2012

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