A Kiss for Luck: Artifacts

Ephemera, ready for collector's installation

This collection of artifacts from the 2013 performance of A Kiss for Luck includes: bow and stern fragments from the wooden boat hull, full set of carving knives used during the performance, one vintage glass mason jar containing wooden boat shavings, a photograph of the artist standing atop ocean waves, a pair of leather work gloves, 19 paper lunch bags—each with artist’s notes of date and food contents consumed during that day's performance, an artist’s journal maintained throughout the performance, and a time lapse video file of A Kiss for Luck.

Vintage mason jar filled with wood shavings, collected from A Kiss For Luck performance
Cover of artist's journal-written in pencil: A Kiss For Luck

Journal Excerpts:


Day 6 on the boat. Hard to find my sea legs again after two days ashore. Work gets harder the lower she gets. She’s starting to break apart in every way possible.

My knuckles ache. I’m tired. And I wouldn’t rather be doing anything else. No new cut. Lots of new bruises & scrapes all over from old bracings left and right, over and under.

I’m not sure how low she’ll go, but a big hull day is coming soon. 4” - 6” of her from top down.”


…a tunnel vision of intense focus, repetition and long hours without break. I’ve felt this before as well—just not as often. From asea to shipwrecked to marooned. One more night of intense bizarre dreams. One more day of painful, burning, knuckle exploding motions. Then I can let go.”

A Kiss for Luck: Timelapse

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Duration 15:00

Time lapse documentation of A Kiss For Luck, originally performed in a Manhattan gallery July 23-August 11, 2013. Over the course of three weeks, James Leonard manually eroded a wooden boat into a sea of shavings. The video compresses the entire process into 15 minutes.

During repeated intervals, the artist  can be seen in  rocking motion at the front of the boat. This is Leonard in the act of sharpening his set of 7 carving knives; each knife lost approximately 1.5” of steel over the course of the performance.