Island

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Public intervention, durational performance, public installation, 2016

Islands which have
never existed
have made their ways
onto maps nonetheless
Nicholas Hasluck

The island represents one of the oldest metaphors, linked to the ideas of escape, shipwreck, being lost, solitude, rest, autonomy, exile, imprisonment, purity, nostalgia, idealism, personality, adventure, discovery, utopia, dystopia, colonization, possession, society, minorities, exclusion, all the way to sunken treasure islands, islands that disappear and reappear, fantastic monsters and noble savages. In this array of concepts, it maintains the status of the chosen representation, the potential transformation and reflection of (forcedly or voluntarily) truncated communication, thus building a bridge between the real and the imaginary.
In the imaginarium of visual artist Mark Požlep, the island joins the concepts of a journey and a boat as the universal and personal symbol of isolation and the individuum. In December last year, the artist spent five days on a constructed raft/island in the middle of a channel in Antwerp, as part of the Belgian initiative BRDG. His only contact with the outside world was limited to occasional repetitive radio transmissions of his own diary entries, broadcast in a nearby underpass that connects two parts of the city. The island was conceived as an exit from reality, a purposeful escape, while at the same time examining the constant alienation in today’s society via the inability for communication and the limitations of movement. The exhibition project will serve to round off and showcase the durational performance.
In his work, Požlep searches for places of communication and creates stories, entering a variety of situations that he often conceptualizes as projects structured between two (geographical or temporal) points and oriented towards the conceived goal. As part of his methodology, an important role is played by the experience itself, diary entries and an openness towards the unexpected. It is the unexpected that reaches the setup for creating meaning and the promise of the real, which grounds the almost romantic narrative of rich iconography, makes it accessible and places it in the context of real social criticism. Požlep’s residence on the raft was interrupted by the arrival of police officers, paramedics and firemen, who in the cold winter night sought to save a person trapped in the middle of the river channel. However, this person neither needed nor wanted their offered assistance. During the subsequent negotiations, the artist persisted on his island, (un)expectedly rounding off the project in the elucidated necessity for the autonomous operation and existence of the modern individual, particularly a newcomer who is looking for their place on the map.

Text by Lara Plavčak



brdg-mark-pozlep-donderdag-22-2-2e26ca878198a420336abb1cc7cd03bf Island, performance documentation, photo by Mark Rietveld


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brdg-mark-pozlep-vrijdag-07-c3f4cead93b28f465c53b2440f2bd88b Island, performance documentation, photo by Mark Rietveld


brdg-mark-pozlep-donderdag-47-724e366537413e54af8b65b2e0c0e13b Island, radio transmission in the tunnel, photo by Mark Rietveld


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dscf7819-eef4db014144dca1a521328ebcdfb0d3 *Exhibition view*


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