Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rubble, Rags and Boro

The stone wall at the top of this photo is actually the base of a pathway that runs along the river near my house, viewed from below on the path that runs along the bank of the river. This is  not a photo of something falling apart, but something being built, by an anonymous pathmaker we just call 'Path Man'. This is the view from up on the path.

Over the past five years, with hand tools that include a spade, a handsaw and a short handled hoe, he has composed a nearly kilometre long path from one park to another. He uses what he finds- broken cement and bricks from demolished buildings that were dumped here from probably the 1870s until, who knows, the 1980s? Rubble that he puzzles together in such an impromtu way you can't always tell if it is falling apart or coming together.

I hesitate to reveal that we have met him, because the whole enterprise is surely contrary to some rules. Probably a lot of them, too. But I can't resist, because of the nature of his work. It engages these ragged edges of the City. And his work doesn't feel entirely composed. I'm starting to think Path Man's work is composed in a spontaneous and immediate way that makes it a lot like boro. But, his deliberate work also fits in with what is happening here on its own. Here is a tree growing around some of the other rubble.

I think there is a certain harmony between Path Man's work and constellations like this. I'm starting to think that certain harmony is part of boro. Ragged edges that do not disappear, but enter into different kinds of relationships. This is a piece of black (or blue?) nylon tent, completely worked into the ground by spring flood water. It could be there for years.

It's hard to see now, but this is a green pillow case embedded into the river bank. Plants are actually growing out of it now.

And some red yarn.

This red yarn, the green pillowcase, the black (blue?) nylon are being worked in here, open to the elements, the wind, rain, flood water all shaping how they fit in to the larger picture. Spontaneously. Is this what Path Man is modeling with his nearly invisible paths? Compositions that are slight and sensitive to the context? We'll never know, because as nice as he has always been when we speak to him, we don't speak Portuguese and he barely speaks English. He just makes his art breaking all the rules!