The latest in the Henry Moore Institute’s ‘Essays in Sculpture’ series ‘All in the Same Boat: Migratory Passages in Contemporary Sculpture – Essays on Sculpture 82’. Published on occasion of the exhibition ‘The Weight of Words’, 7 Jul – 26 Nov 2023, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, UK.
A growing body of recent international art focuses on boats, as unstable vessels and perilous objects. These works flow into a ‘migratory turn’ in contemporary art, joining a flood of artworks that evoke mass human migration as both subject matter and approach.
Despite the complex ethical-political stakes of the subject, the aesthetic dimension of the work of art often overrides the poignancy of empathetic engagement and political mobilization.
In this issue, Dr Heather Diack analyses artworks that challenge geopolitical disparities in the present, looking specifically at sculptural installations that stage issues of displacement, dispossession, and salvage using the boat as central device, and artist Issam Kourbaj discusses the motif of the boat in his recent work.
Dr Heather Diack is Assistant Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Miami. Diack received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and is a graduate of McGill University and the Independent Study Program of the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.
Issam Kourbaj is a Syrian-born interdisciplinary artist who works with drawing, performance and sculpture, often using repurposed material. His work has been exhibited internationally, including at the British Museum and the V&A Museum in London, the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, and the Brooklyn Museum in New York.