Friday, December 21, 2012

Queer Erg

Once again, I am working in overdrive, having set myself a crazy deadline. The prequel show of work related to my rowing back project is due to open in 22 days, on January 12. Since the biggest project still remaining to finish is video, and video is notoriously apt to have unforeseen technical issues, and the holidays are going to slow me down, I probably have seven days to work. Okay, I need to breathe.

I have all the video clips imported, and I have them roughly placed. But none of them are in sync with the sound. I haven't figured out the timing. And I need to reduce one clip that is an hour long to 5 minutes.

The hour long clip is footage of me using a rowing machine (an erg) at the YMCA, working on developing the stamina that I'll need for my big row. The hour wore me out. But the footage is kind of great. I mounted my camera on the handle of the machine, so I am constantly pushing the camera away from myself -- and then pulling it up to my chest. The wide-angle of the lens makes my chest swell to womanish proportions with every stroke. It's good, old-fashioned queering. And it helps to add dimension to the drawings in the show that have the most obvious queer content (such as the two crew-lovers in Restraint on Competition).

Tomorrow I'm packing up my computer and my editing drive and flying with them to my sister's house in Texas for a holiday with my family. I hope I can de-stress enough to be good company!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Sippican Week: Artist Michael Waugh submerged in 2-year project

By Georgia Sparling | Nov 29, 2012

MATTAPOISETT — Hopping into a narrow boat you’re almost sure to capsize in 55-degree water is an unusual way to connect with your ancestors.

But Michael Waugh’s project is anything but run of the mill. The Brooklyn-based artist, who also spends time in Mattapoisett, began a two-year rowing project earlier this summer to retrace the final hours of his great-great-great-great grandfather Gideon Dexter.

Dexter was killed on January 31, 1827 when he rowed into Buzzards Bay trying to save his employer’s runaway skiff. The following morning, he was found frozen on Martha’s Vineyard.

“This very tragic, personal story, has a larger economic truth to it, too,” said Waugh. “Working class people take risks that other people don’t.”

With his project, Waugh will retrace Dexter’s trip in reverse – rowing from Martha’s Vineyard to Mattapoisett with a boat and oars of his own making

The performance artist, who began rowing lessons this summer, launched a boat into New Bedford Harbor on Monday to document his progress.

“I’m a visual artist. In order to document and communicate visually where I’m at with this project, I needed to do the performance.”

Waugh used oars he engraved with excerpts from Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations,” considered the first modern work on economics, and “The Theory of Moral Sentiments,” a book on morality and society.

Of his launch, Waugh said, “In essence, this is to illustrate where I’m starting and how the right equipment matters.”

Still a novice, Waugh said he wouldn’t be surprised if he got wet. “It’s like being on a tight rope. You have to keep the oars level or you just go over.”

With help from New Bedford Community Rowing Program Director Cheyenne Bayse and other members, Waugh climbed into the wobbly boat and was pushed away from the dock.

Once in the water, Waugh found the narrow boat difficult to balance, and tipped over a few feet from the dock.

“Today’s footage really communicates clearly my level of experience,” he said. “Today also lit a fire under me, driving home what I still need to do.”

Waugh will help raise funds for his project through a show in New York City in January.

Originally published in Sippican Week. Photos and video by Georgia Sparling.