Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Maverick Moment of the Day | Democracy Inaction »

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Formerly Hanging

posted by on August 20 at 9:00 AM

A production still from Kathy Slade’s 16mm color film Tugboat (2007)

(Formerly at Or Gallery in Vancouver, B.C. Artist web site here.)

I saw this looped projection a few months ago in a show called Hold On. In the silent film, a tugboat slowly chugs into view (the film was shot in Burrard Inlet in Vancouver) and begins to turn.

Before long you realize: It’s doing donuts. This burly, practical thing has sort of, somehow, lost its shit.

The boat continues spinning, sending water radiating out from it in concentric circles. The mind is swallowed into turning along with it. Is this the way a tugboat plays? Or is this sorry boat languishing? Is this a mind that has gone haywire, an absent mind? Or are we seeing the effects of steely determination and singular focus? It’s a sad, slow slapstick routine. Maybe it has something to do with the state of shipping, of the stuckness of the economy. Maybe not.

Finally, when the boat rights itself and chugs out of view, you miss it, and wish it would come back.

To me it’s a reminder of how simple and easy art can be. I doubt it was simple or easy to commission a tugboat to do circles, but the result isn’t afraid to appear that way.

RSS icon Comments


A very similar twisting display happens several times a week at the Seattle pier where the Norwegian cruise ship is docked. When they remove the long floaty barrier surrounding the cruise ship, this is how they curl it up, by spinning around until the whole thing is collected.

Posted by All summer! | August 20, 2008 9:20 AM

you seriously think this was commissioned?! do a search for tugboat donuts on youtube.

this is garbage.

Posted by shitty art ftl | August 20, 2008 9:32 AM

I've known a few tugboat captains, and most of them would do a few donuts for a beer, or most likely just the suggestion.

Posted by Fnarf | August 20, 2008 9:45 AM

wow, this is staggeringly boring. I don't know if I am in admiring awe or disgusted dismay that you can pull such elegant prose out of NOTHING.

Posted by Sue Talksaboutart | August 20, 2008 10:42 AM

To me, this is a reminder of how simple and easy being an art critic can be.

And if the critic were to leave, I would not miss it. Nor would I want it to come back.

Posted by Hen | August 20, 2008 11:57 AM

Hilarious how a bunch of jackasses who haven't actually seen the piece (correct me if I'm wrong) think they're in a position to judge whether it's boring or not.

You know, I haven't seen "Apocalypse Now," but I heard it's just about some guys on a boat in a jungle -- booooooring.

Posted by y'all be dumbasses, assclowns | August 20, 2008 12:38 PM

Every time I read someone slagging a piece of art for not being difficult to make, I hear the sounds of an Yngwie Malmsteen guitar solo.

Posted by Eric F | August 20, 2008 12:42 PM

I saw this piece at Or Gallery as well. I was mesmerized. I wanted the tug to stop and not to stop. When it did, the slowly churning circle of water gradually became flat calm. A really memorable experience.

Posted by Stephen | August 20, 2008 1:32 PM

@6 - Hilarious how you interpret slagging Jen off as the navel-gazing, pretentious bore that she is as some sort of dig on the work of art in question.

Although, in this case, it IS a piece of shit.


Posted by I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! | August 20, 2008 4:10 PM

Comments Closed

Comments are closed on this post.