Peter Hutton spent nearly 40 years voyaging around the world, often by cargo ship, to create meditative, intimate and luminously photographed film studies of place. At Sea (2007) depicts the life cycle of a container ship from mechanized construction in Korean shipyards, to a journey across the Atlantic and ending with the manual labor of ship breakers in Bangladesh.
Hutton worked as a merchant seaman in the 1960s and ‘70s, travelling the world on freighter ships before the days of containerized cargo. The title of his film, At Sea, evokes a loss of perspective. Maritime artists have long struggled to depict the disorientation of ship journeys, which strip away the familiar senses of time, scale and distance.
Also on view is Shipbreaking, a 2011 model by Nader Taheri. Traditionally, artists made models to record the appearance of a ship, or to guide its construction. This model is highly unusual in commemorating the scrapping of a vessel at the end of its life. It is based on the depiction of ship breakers in Hutton’s film. Located in the Jeffrey P. Beale Gallery.
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TOP IMAGE: Peter Hutton, clip from At Sea, 2007. 16 mm color and black-and-white film transferred to high definition video, silent. Museum purchase, 2012. 2012.21.1. Peabody Essex Museum. © Peter Hutton.