Jason de Haan: Free and Easy Wanderer



Ok ok ok at first you might think “oh look it’s another elitist show in a white cube with things that I can’t decipher right away!” Who cares and why should I? Well to be honest maybe you shouldn’t - why does the dense never read unless forced to in high school Moby Dick story really matter? When I start to think of how significant a mans journey to find something to the point of obsession, I think of a time before we had the answers at our finger tips. A time when our phones were not extensions of our hands, eyes and minds, but rather a time where if one wanted knowledge they had to seek it out.

The show Free and Easy Wanderer is an extension of Jason de Haan’s project Moby Dick. As you walk into the gallery you are confronted with two rows of 23 self-portraits taken at the shoreline of a beach or on a mount of rocks looking out into the water. There the artist sits on his bum reading Moby Dick. The photographs are flipped upside down with the book upright, framed in silver and hung in two rows. Across from the framed photographs, in the little cove is a 4-foot tall what looks like a bulbous Egyptian meets Roman Tuscan column made of a soft pink and white marble. Resting on top of the column is a found shoe covered in moss and soil. As you continue to the large room at the back of the gallery, there are four collages separated on thee walls. Artist, Miruna Roxana Dragan, has a diptych that hang frameless side by side. Another by Jason de Haan and the fourth collage was found by the artist. Dragan’s piece is titled Clay Stealing Clay (Pots Separated From Their Shadow), where the collage is placed to the left and a sketch of the pots to the right done with graphite. Jason de Haan’s collage Don’t Go, is placed diagonal and mimics the shades of Dargan’s piece and the void of physical space. The found collage is of a newspaper page of dancers that is covered in yellow spray paint. There is dark rock like forms that completely black out part of the content that mimics the shape found in de Haan’s collage. Finally towards the far back a young weeping willow tree stands with its roots exposed on a marble slab and its height interferes with the ceiling. There is a small gold ring that rests on one of the top branches, as if it’s waiting for the tree to grow around it. Across from the tree seven stone plinths stand at different heights with different types of shells on top of modern day humidifiers.

Each object, photograph and collage plays off one another to tell a story of a mans journey in life and nature. The self-portraits play out as the land becoming a physical representation of our minds and the water of our bodies. Looking into Moby Dick I realize the word perceive pops up quite often where perception begins to shape what already exists into what we want to see. Here I see a man’s mind connected to the land in his while his body remains fluid in the sky and water. This man brings the world back to nature and reminds us of it beauty. The mind of the human has forgotten nature and this is here to remind us. The journey of the earth, where did it start and will we be the cause of its end? The objects then act as silent reminders of these notions and function as physical metaphors for our relationship to the earth.

One of the most famous quotes from the book Moby Dick is "Call me Ishmael." It is as though the curator is extending the idea of presence by forcing the viewer to continually wander back and forth in different directions. This demand for acknowledgement is further explored with the lack of information provided regarding the show. There is only one sheet provided at the front of the gallery with the name and titles and years of the works. There is no artist statement, no wall text and no online reference that can be found. The curator is demanding an exploration into the world of Jason de Haan and the extension of this world into our own subconscious being.