Balsa, 2012

Balsa wood
522 x 511 cm

Balsa is a 5,22 x 5,11 metre circular wood structure made specifically for one of the rooms at Galerie Van der Mieden in its Antwerp former space. The sculpture, made out of 400 units of balsa wood planks coloured with black charcoal assembled conforming an oval structure spreading out from wall to wall, is slightly reminiscent of a ship´s hull, lacking though the strength of a real ship construction, as the material employed is very fragile. The conception of this piece comes from a fascination with traditional wood construction methods used in shipbuilding and from an early obsession: to build a large circle within a real square space. The first attempts of a similar structure where done during a six-month residency in New York City where I could appreciate, specially in certain peripheral areas like Jamaica Bay, the use of wood in the ubiquitous old vernacular architecture, as well as in wrecked vessels abandoned at the bay area. I was fascinated by those remains in which I could see the past in the present, New York´s history and its tied relation to the sea. The experience, iconography and literature around sea culture and big expeditions is a vivid reference in my work, not so much distinguishable with recognisable motifs, but somehow more imbued with the concept of fernweh or wanderlust, “an ache for the distance”, the impulse to wander or travel faraway.