Artist, Vija Celmins: My name is Vija Celmins, and I'm the artist who made the work in front of you. This work was made in Venice, California. I lived about seven blocks from the ocean, and I used to go down and inspect it in the evening, making photographs, contemplating, making films. I had also been doing drawings in my studio. I had a realization that the surface of the ocean was somehow like the surface of the paper and that I could combine the images and have the image and the drawing unfold together.
I really didn't fudge around or erase or smear. The graphite went on quite clear. I usually started actually at the right hand corner and moved straight up, like a kind of record of a double consciousness. A consciousness of the surface of the paper and also the surface of the image. It's about a kind of double reality of seeing what's there in a most ordinary way, a flat piece of paper and then seeing the double reality of an image that implies a different kind of space which is laid on top of the other image, but which really isn't there.
When you're very up close, you can see that the work is just pencil on paper. It's very ordinary and done in a kind of tender, careful way. But it doesn't really come into focus. And then if you move away, you begin to see that there's an image that's sort of moving like an ocean. I like to think of it like a ghost of an ocean. There is a feeling of timelessness that's implied in an image of an ocean that really has no boundaries.