The Book To Come

‘Shipwreck on the Basque coast’ (c. 1890. Bermeo Municipal Archive).

‘Shipwreck on the Basque coast’ (c. 1890. Bermeo Municipal Archive)

Friday 5 May 2017

‘Ízaro Films Presenta’, proposed by Mikel Eskauriaza.

Session fourteen, ‘The Book to Come’ – Reading Group: a journey down the ría, the Bilbao estuary, on the ‘Euskal Herria’ / Departure and return: 9pm–11pm / Departs from: Agrupación de Boteros de Portugalete, Plaza del Solar s/n, 48920 – Portugalete.

“I watched A Voyage on the North Sea (1973–1974) at a talk by book designer Filiep Tacq organised by Bulegoa z/b in 2013. The work, by Marcel Broodthaers, is a film which is a book and a book which is a film, and it takes a painting of a boat as its object. In 2013, I was working on BAPORAK, a work which also takes boats—portraits of boats—as its object. One of the parts of the project was going to be a book. After the talk, I contacted Filiep Tacq and we got to work. Tacq later started working on The Book to Come with the Bilbao office of art and knowledge.

BAPORAK is a work that undertakes a photographic cataloguing of the Basque tuna fleet in the Indian Ocean. Each of the photographs of the boats—miniature cities in themselves; machines equipped with cutting-edge technology and highly productive factories—follows the formal pattern of the classical naval portrait. Outlined against the backdrop of the sea and sky in a proportion that is maintained throughout the series, the sharp profile of these twenty-first century ships reveals, while simultaneously concealing, a reality we seldom see: what occurs in the oceans, the extraction and intense commercial traffic that forms the basis of the global economy. Boats are singular objects. Their shape is reminiscent of two other figures that emerge from the sea: the island and the whale. Unlike these, the boat is a cultural form, a mobile architecture whose construction needs time and effort, and is done on land, close to the water.

This session of The Book to Come was a journey down the ría, the Bilbao estuary, on the Euskal Herria. The trip took us to several of the old shipyards, as well as some currently functioning ones, from the long history of the area's naval industry. Some of them held the construction of tuna boats that appear in BAPORAK. The trip on board the Portugalete Shipowners' Association was conceived as a cinematographic journey.”—Mikel Eskauriaza

Mikel Eskauriaza (Bilbao, 1969) is an artist who lives in Berango. He has been working with photography and the landscape genre since the nineties. He uses photography as a tool for observing, documenting and interpreting different forms of architectural and urbanistic intervention into territories and the physical, political, economic and symbolic consequences of such intervention—