Bahamian, b. 1979
Blast Off, 2009
Shattered glass rocket, color photographs, light box
110.8 x 77.5 x 3.8 cm (43 5/8 x 30 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches)
Mary B. Jackson Fund 2010.59
(July 8 –October 23, 2011)
Tavares Strachan’s Blast Off consists of a shattered glass rocket and photographs of its experimental launch and brief flight off the coast of the artist’s hometown, Nassau, Bahamas. After the launch and crash of the rocket, Strachan searched for the broken shards and reassembled them for a display that recalls the presentation of skeletons in natural history and archeological museums. The rocket, handmade from melted, local beach sand and powered by sugarcane, exemplifies the artist’s ongoing quest to explore infinite space while maintaining a connection with the natural materials of his home.
Blast Off is part of Strachan’s multi-phase project Orthostatic Tolerance, begun in 2006. The term “orthostatic tolerance” describes the ability to withstand pressure while standing upright, specifically in response to the physiological stresses experienced by cosmonauts and deep-sea divers when they leave and return to the surface of the earth. This phenomenon has guided the artist’s exploration of space and sea, which has included intensive training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, and an extended residency at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At MIT he collaborated with the Manned Vehicle Laboratory in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics on a gravity-augmenting centrifuge and with the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle Laboratory in the Sea Grant College Program to develop an underwater rover fashioned entirely from clear glass. In addition to projects involving astronaut training and deep-sea diving, which have taken him from the Arctic to the tropics, Strachan hopes to one day establish the Bahamas Aerospace and Sea Exploration Center (BASEC).