a. Bas Jan Ader, Tea Party


Bas Jan Ader
1972, 1 min 52 sec

The Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader, who disappeared at sea at the age of thirty-three, is often referred to as the “James Dean of contemporary art”. His idiosyncratic work boasts a distinct romanticism, centred as it is on themes of identity, vulnerability and frailty. He made a series of films and photographs dubbed the “falls”, depicting himself tumbling and stumbling in various scenarios. This striking 1972 piece follows in that vein: a row of six images show the artist having a solitary tea party under a cardboard box, propped up by a stick. The final frame shows just the box, which has fallen, trapping the picnicking artist within.