Did Ader feel protected because he was making a work of art? Protected in his pursuit of the sublime, which suspends all truth and postpones the realisation that we are, in fact, dully mortal? More than anyone, he played with this engagement - laid himself open to the possibility of death. Taunted it. Provoked it. Fell for it. Sadly we can only glimpse at the enormity of Bas Jan Ader’s feat because he failed...
It is perhaps the most unsettling fact of all to learn that The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst was found in Ader’s faculty locker in Irvine some time after he had disappeared. We have to suppose he read it. We have to suppose he imagined Crowhurst’s anguished journey in the light of his own incipient one, even if it was only to dismiss it. We have to suppose he knew, as he set out, that there were many ways to fail as there were many ways to succeed.
Icarus, blinded by the elation of his ascent, failed and fell: fell to fail. His was a journey up that came down. Crowhurst’s was a journey along: flat, doomed and sorrily human. His fall was wretched, unimagined, unannounced and wholly practical. But for Bas Jan Ader to fall was to make a work of art. Whatever we believe or whatever we imagine, on a deep deep level, not to have fallen would have meant failure.
Tacita Dean, And he fell into the sea.
Ader's other falls.
Beautiful post here about Ader + Amos.