Mountaineering and the Urban Wild

For Consideration of the Boston Foundation - Live Arts Boston

Daniel S. DeLuca

Work Samples: 




Expedition Project

Multiple Locations, India

The Maha Kumbh Mela is one of the largest human gatherings on the planet with upwards of 70 million people attending. Hindu pilgrims from all over the world attended to bathe at the convergence of three sacred rivers: the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the Saraswati. I spent five weeks in India developing a new project around this context called Source. I used the concept of ‘source’ as an investigative lens into Indian culture, the Kumbh Mela, and my process of travel and art making.  

I started at the Maha Kumbh Mela and resided on site for eight days. After attending the festival I traveled by bus, car, motorcycle, and foot along the route of the Ganges from the site of the Mela towards its glacial source in the Himalayas. Throughout this five-week period I engaged with the culture, photographed, wrote, and created new work that responded to both the discrete sites and the route traveled. Source is an example of a multi-faceted expedition project where the conceptual structure was influenced by the route set.


Source- Start Location:

Excerpt (above) from Source project- Walking away from the River- Maha Kumbh Mela, Mauni Snan, 2013


Photographic Experiments: I engaged in an intensive process of self-inquiry lead by a Sadhu in Haridwar, before, during, and after traveling to Gangotri. I was deeply focused on questions of the self and consciousness. I spent 36 hours in discourse with two different teachers and several hours each day in personal reflection and contemplation. Twelve sessions of one-on-one instruction investigated the questions: What is the Self? What is I? What is the intellect? What are the relationships between the mind and the body, the mind and the Intellect, and the intellect and consciousness?

As an artistic experiment, I woke up every morning before dawn (for 8 days) and went to the Ganges river to try and capture images / portraits that would be visual representations of these concepts related to self-inquiry.  The two photographs below are examples of this process: 

"See the Seer," (self-portrait from Source project, Ganges River, Haridwar, India, 2013)


"I is not the body," (self-portrait from Source projectGanges River, Haridwar, India, 2013)


Source - End Destination (Gangotri)  

Gangotri is considered the spiritual source of the Ganges and is one of the last outposts before the glacial trek to the geological source. It was closed to visitors during the time I went there. However, I was lucky enough to have a guide who obtained access through his persistence in dealing with local authorities. Only the care-takers of the temples and ashrams stay during this time. Tavel past Gangotri was prohibited due to the danger of attempting the glacial trek in the winter.

Source, video excerpt, 2013, Bhagirathi River (headstream of the Ganges)


Internet, 2015 - Interactive Sculpture

LeLieu, Québec city, Canada

I found two seats at LeLieu that I could make into swings and placed one in the gallery and one in the office, each facing the same wall. The swings were connected to each other by a rope and pulley system that went through the wall. Each person controlled the other persons swing momentum with his or her rope but they were unable to see their counterpart. The project was conceived and built in a day and a half and is a good example of how quickly new ideas can be implemented with the right skills and tools. Internet, had immediate and visceral access points for the audience. There was risk involved in engaging with the work, but there was also a significant reward. Participants had joyful encounters that allowed them to transform from adults into playful kids!