By Robert Burnier, 2018
Site responsive installation
Steel, nylon, hardware, streamers
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.
- Langston Hughes, from The Negro Speaks of Rivers
Romulus and Remus were delivered to safety by the river god Tiberinus — a primordial empathic gesture to begin a broad empire both merciful and merciless. Likewise a man called Jean Baptiste Point du Sable built here where no one, not even the ancients, had before. This maker, this trader, this go-between among first nations, traced a path soon followed by those whose names are now borne in these streets. But this river god, unlike the other, is known to us by the remnants of mundane accounting, like broken cuneiform in clay, as if it were the empirical scripture of his passing through real time. His mythification can be attached to the structure of commerce and legal maneuverings. In the same way, the abstract form might express its significance through quotidian necessity. Empirical fact, others’ dreams in concrete, are participants in an ongoing tension of emergent quality. A thing is inextricable from its other, which is an essential part of its uniqueness. All things, all structures, all histories, hidden or revealed, are like the pulses of light from a distant star that betray the orbits of its planets.