Search for the Miraculous

Unfinished – Search for the Miraculous was initiated by Robert Mangion and Peter Burke who  developed a curatorial model for a group exhibition at Five Walls Projects on the 20th of September 2017. The project  incorporates participatory and conceptual exchange that is in part mentorship and in part a discursive platform for experimentation with spatial, material and narrative structures, drawn out of an historic conceptual art context.

The starting point for Unfinished – Search for the Miraculous is the last work by the Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader, entitled In search of the miraculous (1973-5). This work was intended to be a four-part performance. In 1974 the artist undertook a night walk through Los Angeles that was recorded with 18 photographs. On July 9, 1975, Ader set sail from Cape Cod on a solo voyage across the Atlantic in a four-metre boat. On the night before his departure, he arranged a choir to sing sea shanties around a piano in a gallery. The voyage was to be the central element in the performance. To end it, Ader planned a second choir performance when he reached Falmouth eight months later. However after three weeks, radio contact with his boat was lost. To this day, no one knows whether Ader was swept to his death by a freak wave, or whether, staging his last work had been an intentional act of performing his own disappearance. 


The five participating artists in the exhibition respond to and extend upon the proposition of the unfinished, tracing the influences that give rise to esoteric content through inconclusive processes. As an expanding, cross-media installation the exhibition utilises drawing, painting, sound, photography, performance and objects. These mediums are used to create an interwoven installation that responds to and extends upon the inconclusiveness of Ader’s project, making inaccessible, the object of certainty.


For this project Robert Mangion explores a transitive installation model, surveying the passage between art object, situations and performativity. His work situates the nominal behaviour of disparate visual elements within a context of romantic, conceptualism and inconclusiveness. Opening  them as events that are manifold in structure.

Five Walls Project Space Media release