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7 Scientists, 7 International Artists, 1 Expedition to an Astonishing, Abandoned Island
Clipperton Project: island and sailboat. Photo: Xavier Desmier.

LONDON.- Situated around 800 miles west of Acapulco, Clipperton (or as the French style it, Ile de la Passion) is an abandoned island with a strange history, a unique biosphere and an obscure lagoon filled with ancient marine life. Later this year an expedition of 7 international scientists and 7 international artists will set sail from the West coast of Mexico on a 3-week expedition to the island. The participants will produce work based on the history of the atoll (specifically Mexico’s “damned” colony of 1917) and its ecological, geological and human history in order to create a cross-cultural portrayal of this unique place. The work produced will then be shown at scientific and cultural institutions across Europe and the Americas, including Glasgow Sculpture Studios (Glasgow, Scotland), Universum (Mexico City, Mexico) and Institute of the Americas (London, England).

Expedition Leader, Jonathan Bonfiglio, said: “I’d heard about this strange island of Clipperton a few years ago and it soon became clear that it could offer a very interesting jumping off point for discussing many different topics of importance to contemporary society.”

“The idea of an international arts science expedition came about as offering a way to explore areas such as global warming and environmental issues through cross cultural dialogue. By linking these two broad areas of endeavour it would bring something new to the fore and hopefully reach new audiences.”

“There are so many aspects of Clipperton that are fascinating for me as an artist from its strange history to its unique biology,” says sculptor and Workshop Manager at Glasgow Sculpture Studios, Charles Engebretsen, who is one of only seven international artists to have been selected to take part in the expedition. “I have collaborated with many artists in different environments, but not had close interactions with scientists before,” he adds. “I am really looking forward working with the oceanographers, biologists and medical scientists. The opportunity to work with them will inform my practice a lot, whilst the chance to display the work made in scientific establishments as well as art galleries is particularly exciting as it will hopefully break down the perceived barriers between art and science.”

“We are thrilled to be a partner in the Clipperton Project which will see the artists and scientists not only bring their unique perspectives to issues of importance to contemporary society, but enable some fascinating dialogues to be set up between the two fields,” says Amy Sales, Programme Coordinator at Glasgow Sculpture Studios. “We know that many of the participants already have some ideas about the topics of interest for their research, but we are sure exciting things will emerge once the group arrives at the island and this will lead to both a fascinating body of research and intriguing artwork to be shown in here in 2012. “

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