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Robert Boland's  Running Spiral performance
in the Casket Factory at Southside on Lamar
June 21, 2003


Captions expanded from words from Robert Boland and Art Shirer by Kathy Dello Stritto and JR Compton

Photographs by J R Compton with
a note from Kyle Wadsworth

Ritual - child's sandbox

like a three-cornered boat floating in space
three times each motion, position, direction


sense of towering immensity

bright strut lines, ropes, skylights,
factory windows pouring magical light


walking clockwise — cycling motion

feeling the sand
swinging    resting     R H Y T H M


oppressive heat enhanced the spiritual
— like a sweat lodge vision quest


stripping, sweating out our city life
in the long, slow, swinging arcs
of rippling white, smooth flesh
sand, wood, brick and glass



Robert Boland - manila rope & wax
rope, charcoal, graphite, paper & wax in the gallery at Southside


Robert Boland talking with the crowd after the performance — notice he shaved his head and eyebrows for the performance.  


Explanatory Notes From the E-mailed invitation

by Kyle Wadsworth

For years Boland has been exploring the human need for rituals. In this work he has alluded that the concept references similarities between simple childhood rituals and the complex rituals developed within the dogmas of Buddhism and Catholicism (my words).

By mixing references from these perceived extremes of human development, we are given a fascinatingly bizarre visual combine.

A five feet wide trough filled with 15 wheelbarrow loads of sand travels twelve feet across the room.

Three of these troughs are joined to form a voluminous triangle. Suspended over each corner is a rustic swing that extends up to the 24 foot ceilings.

The visuals, although elaborate, mirror the space through the history inherent in the recycled natural materials (wood ,sand, rope, garments). Boland will interact with this sculpture during the performance.

This environment will be further enhanced by a live sound performance by fellow artist in residence Ryan Franklin.



Notes from the performance

The more private part of Dallas artist Robert Boland's ritual began five minutes before CJ Davis led the crowd of 82 people into the old casket factory building from the gallery next door.

Waiting, anticipating, and already sweating profusely in the gutted, uncooled dark brick space, Robert climbed the red ladder to start the first of three camcorders to document his 20-minute performance and exchanged final cue checks with musician Ryan Franklin and assistant Kyle Wadsworth.

Then he climbed into the triangular sand trough and walked slowly, deliberately, three-times around, and tested each of the three canvas backed swings.Then the young artist crouched down and crawled around the large, wooden triangle one more time, roughening the surface of the sand with his hands.

The public part of the ritual involved walking around the sand filled trough — three times — then climbing into the swings and swinging, forward and back, one after another until the music rose in volume, the cue that the 20 minutes was finally over.

Boland later said it seemed like forever.

Each time, Robert would leap from one swing, walk to the next one, climb in and push back toward the wall behind it, then swoop out over the crowd on the adjacent wall, back and forth in a low, slow succession of arcs. First, he'd sit up straight in the swing, then he'd lean back into the canvas back, fold his arms behind his head, lift his knees and cocoon.

Each time he'd start swinging the next swing, he'd kick sand arcing low, up and out with his bare feet.

After the performance, a profusely sweating Robert Boland changed into a clean, buttoned shirt and talked with some of the people in attendance.

We were wowed by the simple elegance of the acts and the beauty of the set.


Running Spiral Feedback

Bet you are glad you did not miss that.... same here.....

i thought the performance was exceptional and only later as the images return do i really feel the impact of it.... at the time, i found myself pushing up on my toes, trying to help Robert get higher.... i felt a child like playfulness throughout, except for the times he seemed to return to the womb, but there was something very ancient going on... the photos in the gallery are beautiful.... the prose/poem in DallasArtsRevue is very good...

thanks for letting those that were not there at least get a glimpse.....

Robert Moore
Fort Worth


Thank you so much, JR.

I checked every hour Sunday to see if you had the story up.

Boland and Kyle were here when your e-mail came in. They both smiled a lot.

I hoped that you 2 would enjoy the work. It pleases us a great deal that you did.

...really nice photos, by the way- Thanks again for doing what you do.

C.J. [Davis]


I only got to see the web site, but it was amazing. I'm sorry I missed it. To Robert, From, your biggest fan in Alabama

Mark Wisener


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