The American artist Ellie Ga is exhibiting individually for the first time in Portugal, at Galeria Zé dos Bois, presenting Gyres, an exhibition that starts from Gyres 1-3, an installation exhibited at The Whitney Biennial of American Art in 2019, having then passed through, among others, the Videonale – Festival for Video Art at Kunstmuseum Bonn, FID Marseille, Le Plateau – FRAC Ile-de-France in 2020.
In oceanography, gyres (gyros, Greek: a circle, a ring) are a combination of winds and currents that produce orbital patterns in the ocean. Debris is often caught in these gyres, and sometimes this debris is released by the gyre and washes up ashore.
The video installation Gyres by Ellie Ga weaves interconnected narratives focusing on the diverse objects which wash ashore. Set to the cadence of Ga’s own voice, she slides transparent photographs onto one light table, and then swipes them towards another, creating a rhythm that echoes that of flotsam as it is washed ashore by the surf and then dragged away.
We hear stories about an oceanographer who uses debris from container spills to map the circulation of the Pacific Ocean’s gyre. Similarly, debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan is used to reconstruct how invasive species have made transoceanic crossings. In Gyres, the viewer encounters stories and objects from forced migrations across the Aegean Sea. We hear about rituals of launching messages in bottles and the offering of metal shoes to appease the Archangel Michael on these same Greek islands. People end up on far-away shores only to be told that they don’t belong. Objects that end up far from their origins are collected by beachcombers and put on display. In Gyres, the narrations are constructed through conversations and chance encounters. One conversation is nested inside another conversation. Locations flow into one another.
Ellie Ga explores how flotsam can speak of what is left behind and what resurfaces time and time again.