Jan jokes that his sense of foreboding about the rising sea comes from a very Freudian place. The artist grew up on a peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic off of Marshfield, Massachusetts, a small town where lobstermen with rusty trucks would drive along the brackish coast. On stormy days water would flood around his family’s raised house. (Recently, Jan’s mother saw the ecological writing on the wall, and sold her house after two consecutive years of flooding.)
“I think it’s part of growing up on the ocean,” he says about his obsession with the clash between the human and the marine. “I’m slightly phobic of deep water. Holoscenes was definitely a connection to that fear, because one of the things that affected me was seeing lots of images of bodies in floods. I had a particularly visceral response.”
Those anxieties have found a very topical home in southern Florida. “Miami’s precarious position is something that’s really important to the project. The city is really the edge of the future, because here it’s totally the present. Everyone thinks it’s in 50 years, it’ll affect their grandchildren, but in Miami, it’s completely now.”
Jan thinks of his latest project as being very much a time-based proposition—whether that involves the urgency of climate change, the speed with which a viewer passes through the pavilion, or the way the shadows move across the buildings on the top deck. Hence the “slow-moving” part of the work’s title: There will be intentional space for reflection and contemplation.
“It’s referencing, in part, a Zen temple that I used to live near in Kyoto, which had these two windows, the window of confusion and the window of enlightenment,” says Jan. “So it’s thinking about gazing through an aperture in that tradition versus looking at the mirror and being consumed with one’s reflection. There’s a little bit of a dark irony in the project.”