Holt/Smithson Foundation is delighted to announce details of its first artist commission. The Island Project: Point of Departure invites Tacita Dean, Renée Green, Sky Hopinka, Joan Jonas, and Oscar Santillán to develop proposals responding to an island in Maine that was purchased sight-unseen by Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson on September 30, 1971.

At the mercy of the weather and rising sea levels, Little Fort Island is a small coastal island outside of Harrington, Maine that palpably demonstrates the changing state of our planet. Smithson made two drawings outlining potential projects for the island before visiting. When he arrived at Little Fort Island in 1972, Smithson decided not to proceed with the meandering earthwork proposals as he felt the landscape was too picturesque.

In the spirit of Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson, The Island Project sets out to develop innovative ways of exploring our relationship with the planet. The five invited artists will think with Holt/Smithson Foundation on and off location to consider how this island site can be a point of departure to generate ideas, raise questions, and inspire artworks. The resultant artworks might be a film, a soundscape, an unrealized proposal, a text, a sculpture, a performance, a radio broadcast, a digital project, a series of photographs, a suite of drawings, or something yet to be defined. The artworks might be experienced on-site, off-site, with partner museums, as broadcasts, as publications, with local partners: the location will be defined by each artist. The Island Project will develop over time, led by research and experiment, coming to fruition over the next five years.

Tacita Dean

Tacita Dean (born 1965, UK) lives and works in Berlin. Working primarily in film, Dean explores the conditions of chance, chaos, and contingency. Dean has been the recipient of numerous prizes including the Cherry Kearton Medal and Award, Royal Geographical Society; Robson Orr Ten Ten Award: A Government Art Collection/Outset Annual Commission; the Kurt Schwitters Prize; the Hugo Boss Prize at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Sixth Benesse Prize at the 51st Venice Biennale.

Renée Green

Renée Green (born 1959, Cleveland, OH) is an artist, writer, and filmmaker known for her highly layered and formally complex multimedia installations in which ideas, perception, and experience are examined from myriad perspectives. Her work engages with investigations into circuits of relation and exchange over time, the gaps and shifts in what survives in public and private memories, as well as what has been imagined and invented.

Sky Hopinka 

Sky Hopinka (born 1984, Ho-Chunk Nation/Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians) works in video, photography, and text to explore personal positions of Indigenous homeland and landscape, and how language operates as a container of culture. He engages with place by asking who lives now here and who lived here before, Hopinka explores what it means to be a guest in a landscape. Born and raised in Ferndale, Washington Hopinka has lived in Palm Springs and Riverside in California; Portland, Oregon; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Joan Jonas

Joan Jonas (b. 1936, New York, NY) works with video, performance, installation, sound, text, and sculpture. A close friend of Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson, she can be seen in the 1969 collaborative video East Coast/West Coast and in Holt’s 1968 photographic works Over the Hill and Down Hill.

Oscar Santillán

Oscar Santillán (born 1980, Ecuador) is an artist and cybernetician living in The Netherlands and Ecuador. Santillán is currently embarked on a long-term project oriented to rediscover lost episodes of the history of science in Latin America, understanding these attempts require seamless mutations between indigenous cosmologies, modern technologies, and sci-fi imaginaries.