Willem
Kempers

B-J Ader Book

Jan 27th, 2015

Bas-Jan Ader (1942 - 1975) was a Dutch conceptual artist. His body of work consists of a couple of pictures and nine short films. He led a difficult post-war life as a minor and after getting kicked out of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, he moved to America.


America seemed to treat him better then the Netherlands, nevertheless, he yearned to go home. He decided to sail back in the smallest vessel ever to cross the Atlantic. It would be the project people would recognise him by, Ader called it “In Search Of The Miraculous”.


After three weeks all radio contact with the artist was lost and he was presumed lost at sea. On April 18, 1976 his boat was found off the coast of Ireland, but without a trace of Ader.


To this day, no one knows whether Ader was swept to his death by a wave, jumped overboard, or if his intention in staging his last work had been to commit suicide.


After he was presumed lost, the book “The Strange Last Voyage Of Donald Crowhurst” was found in his room. It tells the story of Donald Crowhurst, a failing businessmen who participates in a boat race across the Atlantic in order to win money. Short after Crowhurst’s departure, he went insane. He developed his own theory of the cosmos based on Einstein’s, then committed suicide convinced he had become a cosmic deity.


The similarities between Crowhurst and Ader’s story are quite intriguing: both were unrecognised in their own way, both were deeply fascinated by the cosmos and both lives ended on the Atlantic.


This book-installation is made in memory of Bas-Jan Ader’s journey. When the pages touch water, they vanishes and briefly reveal the message “Thoughts unsaid, then forgotten”.