The existential Iceboat

In 2012, artist Neha Choksi, dressed in white, set herself to row a boat of ice until it melted and released her in the water. The video of her performance, titled Iceboat, was released earlier this year.

Neha Choksi sets off on an iceboat on Lake Pawna near Lonavala

Through the performance, Choksi highlights the effort to stay afloat despite the inevitability of failure. Iceboat was the third in a trilogy of work which includes videos such as Leaf Fall (2008) and Minds to Lose (2012), on themes pertaining to withdrawing and disengaging. Iceboat will be showcased as part of the Artists Films section at the 15th Mumbai Film Festival. It was first shown at Project 88 in Colaba. Iceboat is also currently showing in a group exhibition, titled Home Away, in Los Angeles.

There was uncertainty over how long the boat would last before it ejected her

Choksi had been planning the Iceboat project since 2007 and was gathering various components for the shoot. She reminisces, “Logistically, I needed not only to design a sculpture mold but a freezing facility large enough to handle the mould. Then, I had to transport the mould and boat to Lake Pawna and demould the boat.”

The rowing process had to be captured in a single shot

Other challenges cropped up: “The rowing portion was a one-shot deal in terms of getting me on a once-in-a-lifetime iceboat and rowing it.” The boat lasted nearly an hour, and Choksi rowed most of the time going further into the lake’s emptiness. “That was the key — emptiness, to experience going in circles and to not get anywhere because an iceboat cannot go on forever. I wanted to make an equivalence between the lake’s water, the iceboat and my flesh through the metaphor of liquefaction,” she concludes.

 The performance carries a message of striving despite the inevitability of failure

The experience revolved around emptiness and getting nowhere

Watch the Iceboat as part of the Mumbai Film Festival, at Metro Cinema, Dhobi Talao. On Monday, October 21, 8 pm onwards.
The exhibition is on display at Project 88, BMP Building, ground floor, NA Sawant Marg, Colaba, till November 16.

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