Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Merge like a zip

There is a road sign in New Zealand at a point where two roads approach each other and both streams of traffic have right of way that reads 'Merge like a zip'. As we approach the end of the road, I have often thought of this as a metaphor for the way in which The Long and Winding Road merges my practice and research, absence and presence and the past and the future. When asked to talk about the project, I have often misquoted Marshall McLuhan: 'We look at the present via the rear-view mirror, we drive backwards into the future.' The view I share with a passenger of the road ahead is always foregrounded by the road behind us. The baggage on the back seat. This process of 'merging like a zip' suggests two separate roads becoming a single road. The zip forms a whole from two halves. The zip is something that both opens and closes and makes two ends meet. The project has always been about trying to find a closure without knowing how. A very good friend told me I was seeking epiphanies and now I realise that he was right. I set off on a journey on 17 May 2004 without a sense of where I was heading. It was a dot dot dot not a full stop. Now as we reach the final stages I am filled with a sense that the closure I always sought has already happened. As is often the case with this project, I am only the driver, the car and the route it follows towards its inevitable history is already mapped out. Another phrase I keep thinking of is a 'road map for peace'. Odd when the language of driving is appropriated by politics but again it suggests a sense of following a preordained route. Maybe when the car is fully immersed in the Mersey, when there is no turning back, I will find my epiphany, my road map for peace, and everything I have spent the last five years working towards will make some kind of sense. The act of driving and the act of living will 'merge like a zip'.