2004 crossing the Rubicon | Rome
crossing the rubicon
a proposal for the American Academy in Rome
Caesar’s irrevocable act of crossing the Rubicon thru which he committed himself, along with his army, to either conquer or perish in his march against Pompeii in 49BC would not necessarily come first to mind with the use of the idiom “… crossing the Rubicon…”. It has come to mean simply that a person is taking a decisive, irrevocable step. It has been removed from direct reference to the insatiable appetite of the Emperor. In effect it has become a vestige, unhinged from its original source, removed from its historical reference. Unless by circumstance one might catch the utterance of this idiom from the mouth of a commentator on military strategy, in which case a crack in time splits momentarily and past and present collide, and this vestige of language becomes prescient.
In my work as a sculptor I have always searched, sifted through material. From the years of siphoning through the scrap yard to the recent search through stacks in libraries, my activity as an artist in relationship to material has been forensic in methodology, in structure. I search for evidence. I cannot say I have always known the exact nature of what it has been that I have been looking for, rather it has been the search itself that has defined the work. In this sense I have identified my practice circumspectively to the fields of anthropology and archeology, the palpable difference being of course that I am not a scientist and not so much interested in verifiable fact, rather my destination has been a poetic reality, the creatively licensed version of the truth.
Back to the Rubicon and to the personal and the decisive, irrevocable step and | or to the historical and the Emperor’s insatiable desire for conquest and power. In thinking about history, about empires, past and present, what better site to locate oneself than Rome—Rome with its edifice vestige of power, still very much present in the Church. In thinking about the personal, about the decisive, irrevocable step what better than to commit to the experience of displacement, of traveling to stay for a period of time in a strange and foreign place. A place with layers and layers of historical evidence to sift through, to search thru, to consider the contradiction between the smallness of one’s personal narrative to the larger history of Empires come and gone.
crossing the rubicon will be an image based project. I will use the architectural and historical specificity of the city of Rome coupled with the reality of my own displacement within that environ as the foundation, the starting point for the project. The project will most likely result in a small editioned book (similar to my recent project oracle). However another option would be a series of large, true to scale digital prints publically sited within a broader conceptual framework. Obviously this latter component would need to grow out of an organic process of working not one artificially predetermined. Whichever the final form of the project it will be subject to the necessity of scale demanded by the ideas as they develop on the ground and the trajectory of the resulting work.