Jon Kessler is internationally renowned for his ironic-political works, his kinetic multi-media ‘sculptures’, which combine the symbolism and objects of everyday life. His Drunken Boat has been hanging from the ceiling of the Planet Thailand restaurant, close to his studio, in Williamsburg/Brooklyn since 1999. It was Paul Auster’s idea to name this installation Drunken Boat – after the eponymous poem by Rimbaud. On the face of it, the title evokes a merry evening among friends, but it also has a dark side to it.
The rudders are moved by water raining through the boat’s perforated hull. A stuffed duck both graces the bow and serves as the captain of the leaky boat. The duck has a bouy hanging from a loop around its neck; the buoy bears a greater resemblance to a weight pulling downwards and strangling the duck than it does to a lifesaver. consequently, the observer is left with the distressing association of the thousands of people around the world whose attempts to sail to freedom in a boat prove to be their very last journey.