… A Leviathan’s Lullaby & A Heart Buried at Sea.
Curator & Writer | Hakan Burcuoğlu · Venue | Thormanby Island · Gear | Leica
The boat rocks on seething, cerulean seas as he scuttles bow-side, silhouetted. It’s forceful shadow play, heuristics by hatchet, a ceremonious prelude—the reason I’m here. But I’m dazed—weak at the knees—inundated by roaring winds, and the inescapable sounds of guttural sea lions that burrow into my plexus. Disenfranchised, I close my eyes to elude this constance—these forces of nature, this bearded, subsumed energumen. But suddenly, he amplifies his histrionics, gesticulating to fish and fowl—euphoric. “Eureka!” he bellows, hunched over starboard, delivering a cohort of oysters back to their provenance on a raging inferno of crackling coals. My mind’s flooded. And this ark is my rapture. But who better to save me, than Noah incarnate.
I’m not one for sacrosanct—and perhaps exaggerate for effect—but find it near impossible to refrain from allegory in encapsulating Johnny’s remarkable life story. With humanity blemished in every which way, it’d be easy to mistake his positivity—and clamour—for pandering nostrums. But now that I’ve seen the light, I understand his story to be as much nativist, as nurturist. There’s no room for “versus” in this debate, and no heart of darkness he’d wish to spare. He’s of this land, as much Leviathan as he is mad pirate, and we’re all here, watching in awe, bearing witness to his belle époque.
But let’s not let this rapturous renaissance inflect years of brutal brawn. As is with the vast majority of professionals working in in high-pressured kitchens, Johnny, too, has taken his licks. What renders him singular [having worked in over 55 restaurants] is that he’s remained utterly unscathed, having garnered enough intelligence, and resilience, to belabour any powder keg. So thank you, Mr. Bridge, for allowing us into your domain, and for showing a cynical city slicker the true meaning of adventure. I’ve buried my heart at sea, and you know I’ll be back for more.