The Clipperton Project
- Talitha Kotzé
- 10 August 2012
An uninhabited island becomes an idea at the 2012 Edinburgh Art Festival
Clipperton is an uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean southwest of Mexico. To a group of modern day expeditionaries this island has also become an idea. In March this year 20 artists and scientists from eight different countries embarked on a three-week journey to this isolated French atoll where they researched the strange ring-shaped island that completely encloses a freshwater lagoon. If every man is an island, to them Clipperton became a mirror for viewing an inner world. The Clipperton project then allows this remote place to become a catalyst for asking pertinent questions about the links between local and global issues.
The exhibition at GSS acts as an entry point into the expedition, but also as a starting point for further discussions with new participants through a series of events. Set up as a laboratory rather than a finished exhibition it showcases a collection of photographs, installations, sculptures, an underwater camera, footage, a library, video screenings and invasive plants. Where scientists aim to reveal without ambiguity and artists aim to always keep something hidden, this project allows for cross fertilisation on ways to communicate.
One of the artists, Charles Engebretsen from Scotland, said: ‘Standing under the relentless sun surrounded by man-made items paints the perfect scene of a post-apocalyptic world. Our desires for luxury, information, war and survival are all contained in the debris of this one atoll.’ His work for the exhibition entitled ‘CaCO3’ is reminiscent of a beautiful colony of grey barnacles spread across the wall. On closer inspection one realises that it is made out of small pockets of cement that he has cast in plastic bags. Combining two of the most destructive materials on our planet, his work talks about surface beauty and the wars on our oceans through relentless fishing, underwater explosives destroying marine life ecosystems.
Herein lies the magic of the Clipperton project. It is an idea. It does not claim to have a quick fix solution, it does not tell you what to do or who to give money to, rather it aims to provide a consciousness shifting springboard from which to approach challenging debates relating to social, environmental and political issues of global relevance, in a manageable fashion, at home.
Glasgow Sculpture Studios, until Sat 20 Oct