Outsiders, who visit Varanasi’s ghats are greeted by the ubiquitous boatmen, who ask everyone the same one-word question: boat?
During my time on the Ganges, I imagined these boatmen as the guardians of the river and all it offers. Their prettily, painted boats, like the burning funeral pyres on the ghats, represent a means of transport to a transcendent state offered by the beloved Mother Ganga, the river goddess. Exposed to daily death rituals, I pondered the Hindu concept of Moksha; that by dying in Varanasi, mortal souls are released from the cycle of rebirth, and obtain liberation. I spent days fashioning vibrantly, decorated boats for this video, which I set on fire, since each day in Varanasi reminded me that nothing lasts forever. It was liberating to burn the boats I had worked hard to create. The video opens with a young girl and an older man posing with my boats and represent the beginning and the end of the life cycle, day to night. The video runs about seven minutes and seven, handmade boats appear in the video. Seven is recognized as a magic number through-out the world and in the Hindi language, the number seven is sat, which means truth. Death is truth, for sure.
To sum up my time in that psychedelic city on the sacred River Ganges, I wrote the following lines:
Boats and souls ply the river, seeking liberation from the cycle of life.
Day turns to night, fires burn bright and all things must pass.
My video, boat represents these ideas.