graphite drawing illustrating an aerial view of Little Fort Island with a meandering path overtop of it

The Island Project: Point of Departure

In 2020 we launch Holt/Smithson Foundation’s Artist Commission Program which aims to further the creative legacies of Holt and Smithson.

Our Artist Commission Program invites artists to respond to an island in Maine, a site purchased by Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson sight-unseen on September 30, 1971. Little Fort Island is a small coastal land outcrop outside of Harrington, Maine that palpably demonstrates the changing state of our planet.

Difficult to reach, Little Fort Island is at the mercy of the weather and rising sea levels. Smithson made two drawings outlining potential projects for the island before he made a site visit. However, when he arrived at Little Fort Island, Smithson decided not to proceed with the meandering earthwork proposals as he felt the landscape was too picturesque.

Over the next decade The Island Project we will develop a series of artist commissions. 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. Working with a panel of nominators this Fall we invite five artists to think with us 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.

Details of our invited artists for The Island Project will be announced in Fall 2020.

In 2024 we will launch the second part of this Program: The Inland Project. The inland site is located beside a dry lakebed in the Great Basin Desert, Utah. This will be an Open Call project, and details will follow in 2024.