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Log Book of Ballast

Hans Schabus is fascinated by journeys, and by the spaces through which we travel. Log Book of Ballast retraces a mostly forgotten journey: that made by countless stones used as ballast on ships sailing from Liverpool to America’s east coast. Once in America, no longer needed as ballast, the stones became raw material with which to build houses and pave streets. Schabus’s log recounts the story backwards, recording the artist’s own journey to retrieve some ballast stones and return them to their point of origin. In bringing the stones ‘home’, however, Schabus also gives us the opportunity to encounter the literal bedrock of a city now itself in the process of being rebuilt. Stones may not immediately appear the most natural of travellers, and yet they owe their form and existence to a slow journey, borne on glaciers from mountainside to river mouth. Used as ballast, the stones held meaning for ship owners only during the moments between departure and arrival. Abandoned on arrival, they would no longer anticipate space to be filled with tradeable goods, but create and define new space, providing the raw material with which to build houses and pave streets. River Street, the oldest street in one of America’s first planned cities, Savannah, is aptly named, since it is paved with stones from the Mersey. In bringing these foundlings home, Schabus at once makes the stones visible at their point of origin, and returns them to their natural hidden state beneath the river. Log Book invites us to undertake a journey, and in the action of travel to encounter the bedrock of a city in the process of being rebuilt. Sorcha Carey

Project Credits Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial International 06 Supported by Northwest regional Development Agency The National Lottery through Arts Council England Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Esmee Fairbairn Foundation

Date

16 September – 26 November 2006