Ships + Dreams

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Lydia Rubio performs a dual role in her latest project: artist and oracle. “All night long, we heard birds passing,” a simple foreshadowing formula written by Christopher Columbus over 500 years ago is now appropriated by Rubio for her monumental installation at the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Terminal at the Port of Miami.

If the artist has her way, the passengers of those floating utopias (heterotopias, according to Michel Foucault) will undergo a thorough transformation. “This piece continues my explorations… of journeys…as mechanisms for transformation, growth and self-discovery.”

For the Royal Caribbean site, “my idea was to point out to the viewer, the [parallels with] the routes taken by an adventurer:
Christopher Columbus, whose quest led to a significant revolution.”

Within a setting that she describes as “Borrominiesque,” the installation follows the axis of a 220 ft. long interior wall and includes stylized metal sculptures of birds and boats, as well as paintings and a mural with Roman type. The sheer dynamic and dramatic intensity of the work strengthens the immediacy of the prophecy. There will be a change in the cartography of each passenger. The skies are changing, birds are flying overhead: all the elements are in place for a new discovery, for the toppling of an old order of things to be replaced by a new paradigm.

Michel Foucault wrote in “Des espaces autres” “the ship is the heterotopia par excellence. In civilizations without boats, dreams dry up.”

In Rubio’s nautical universe, one finds in ships, in words, in islands, and, evidently, in works of art, the coexistence of “the mystery” and the hermeneutical tools to interpret one’s place in the cosmos. Ships, just like words, phrases, books, and works of art do not float adrift; they are set on the course of adventure, using the cartography of reverie.

Published in Gables Magazine, December 2003