The Final Days of Nowhere Island
After a year at sea, Alex Hartley’s Nowhereisland completes its journey, from Arctic island to visiting nation.
The simple narrative premise - the journey of a small island from an Arctic archipelago as a migrant nation during the London 2012 Games - has acted as this new nation’s emblematic back-story inspiring over 21,000 globalcitizens.
Nowhereisland is above all sculptural - a provocative and ambitious act of material displacement by the artist, which challenges our assumptions about the fixity of landscape. The island territory of Nowhereisland is unrelenting in its barren nature - distinct from the green and fertile coastal surroundings for much of its journey - an alien Arctic landscape describing the coast of the south west UK and drawing a picture of the coastal communities it visits.
A symbol of a displaced nation journeying south in search of its people, Nowhereisland exists in isolation but always within sight of its Embassy - a mobile museum carrying with it the stories of its origins.
A logistically complex work of land art, the project also offers a redefinition of public art inspired encounters locally and internationally: from the promise of utopia through the online constitution, to the collective celebrations in small ports and harbours around the south-west region.
The year-long, wide-ranging, Resident Thinker programme has included contributions from artists and writers such as Matt Coolidge of the Center for Land Use Interpretation, Suzanne Lacy, Tim Etchells, Salena Godden and YokoOno, geographers and ecologists such as Tim Cresswell and Tim Smit, constitutional lawyer Carl Gardner and scholar of utopia, Richard Noble.
“Since I first heard of this I have been fascinated with not simplyits meaning, but also with the potential of its visual presence… I want to see that little piece of alien land squatting in the waters off the BritishCoast. I want to see Nowhereisland because seeing causes me to think, to remember, to associate, and to look at things in a different way .. ‘Powerfulways of acting spring from powerful ways of seeing.’’ (Susan Lacy)
As a final act, Hartley has announced that on leaving Bristol on Sunday 9th September, the island territory will be dispersed amongst its citizens -piece by piece.
Nowhereisland is a work of land art for our time with profound social, political and economic implications within the context of London 2012.