The Keeper of Nothingness
“Eric Newby left his job as a London fashion trade worker in 1956, and with no experience, he and a friend drove to the area Northeast of Kabul to go mountain climbing. The title of this exhibition is excerpted from Newby’s book, “A Short Walk in The Hindu Kush” and is the translation of the Tajik word for those who tend mountain passes.
Partially, what drew Newby to The Hindu Kush range was the need to break from the banality of Consumer Capitalist safety and that well-worn Western naivety about the rough beauty of an exotic, violent country. His book remains one of the pre-eminent modern travel memoirs, and what occurred in my year-long push to Kabul can be seen in a similar light.
It’s the draw to the unknown story, the push away from safety, and the hope for something that both hurts and illuminates. These are the desires of soldiers, aid workers, travelers and hobos. The Keeper of Nothingness uses the world and mechanisms of soldiering to generate those moments before the travel memoir begins and after it concludes. It is about prelude and aftermath, anticipation and fallout, and much less about what we might call action.
The Keeper of Nothingness also considers the liminal space — where one set of norms is exchanged for another. This might be mountain to valley, but it might also be safety into chaos, or representation into abstraction. Much of my interest in military society has been rooted in exchange values, in the spaces between lived experience and the attempt to share the knowledge gained. And so in many of the assembled paintings the literal becomes subjective, the known turns amorphous and fleeting, and the void draws near.
~ Scott Waters
Scott Waters’ paintings and drawings explore the tensions and similarities between civilian and military culture, drawing from his personal and emotional experience as both an artist and a Canadian soldier. Waters’ recent and ongoing work draws on his period in the Canadian Army from 1989 to 1992. Serving as an infantryman in the Third Battalion of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, he was stationed in Wainwright, Alberta, and Victoria, British Columbia. Since 2006, Scott Waters has been selected twice to participate in The Canadian Forces Artist Program(CFAP). Most notably in 2006, Waters visited CFB Gagetown NB and embedded with India company, 2RCR as they trained for the specific threats and situations which they would face during their deployment to Afghanistan. Through 2010-2011 Waters returned to the CFAP program, returning to his old unit, now located at CFB Edmonton, as they trained in the Badlands of Southern AB, operated a paratrooper course and began deploying to Kabul, Afghanistan. Waters subsequently deployed to the Kabul area where he joined 3PPCLI as they began The Canadian Forces' mission to train the Afghan National Army. Waters’ work has been exhibited extensively in Canada, notably at the Canadian War Museum and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. In 2012, Waters was honoured with a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his work in Contextualizing Canadian History.