In 2002, Steve McQueen met a charismatic fisherman named Ashes in Grenada. When the British artist returned to the island eight years later, Ashes was dead, gunned down by a drug kingpin after the fisherman discovered a cache of narcotics on the beach.
Ashes’ tale is the subject of a two-sided video installation at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston. On one side, the protagonist sits on a fishing boat as it rocks up and down on azurite waves. Like a marine sprite, Ashes prances on the prow of the vessel, impervious to salty sea spray. On the other side, two concrete-slingers build a whitewashed sepulcher for the dead protagonist while a narrator recounts Ashes’ bloody end.
This is a meditation on the destruction of the body and the construction of memory. Ashes is a comment on mortality—“ashes to ashes, dust to dust”—and the vagaries of time. Here, youth and annihilation, life and death, are presented at the same moment.
Show runs until 2.25.18. Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston. icaboston.org
This short review is being simultaneously published at Delicious Line, deliciousline.org. Christopher Snow Hopkins is an independent writer and critic living in Boston.