Ship of Fools - Call for Submissions

A multi-discipline art event to be held at the Substation Project Space, Margate, June 2008, date tbc. This is one of several projects originated by the Limbo curatorial team and derives from Foucault's speculations on the concept of Heterotopias, which is our focus for this year's programme of events.

“In civilizations without boats, dreams dry up…” so ends a summary* of Foucault’s lecture of March 1967, in which ‘the boat’ was imagined as an heterotopia par excellence … ’a floating piece of space, a place without a place, that exists by itself, that is closed in on itself and at the same time is given over to the infinity of the sea’.

(* This text, entitled "Des Espace Autres," and published by the French journal Architecture /Mouvement/ Continuité in October, 1984, was the basis of a lecture given by Michel Foucault in March 1967).

The ‘Ship of Fools’ is a popular metaphor often used to describe the human condition. Here, the notion that we are all foolish, self-centred beings bent on achieving our own interests at the cost of others, is one that has been embraced by writers, musicians, artists, filmmakers and composers.

The earliest literary source for the ‘Ship of Fools’ seems to be the lyrical satire ' Das Narrenschiff', written and published by Sebastian Brandt in 1494. It was so successful in its time that ' six authorized and seven pirated editions appeared before Brandt's death in 1521' (Gillis, Patricia 1971) The book also contained woodcuts, many of which have been attributed to Durer.

There is also a painting of the same title by Hieronymus Bosch, that may pre-date Brandt's work, suggesting that the concept was familiar in the 15th century. Nicolas Pioch (Web Museum, Paris, 2002) wrote: In ‘The Ship of Fools’ Bosch is imagining that the whole of mankind is voyaging through the seas of time on a ship…a small ship that is representative of humanity. Sadly, everyone is a fool. This is how we live, says Bosch, we eat, drink, flirt, cheat, play silly games, pursue unattainable objectives. Meanwhile our ship drifts aimlessly and we never reach the harbour…’

At the Project Space we plan to exhibit work that addresses these ideas, and we welcome submissions from artists working in all art forms. We are able to accommodate an artist for a two-week residency, subject to proposal, and we also plan an 'outing' from Margate to the Whitstable Biennale for one day, on our own 'Ship of Fools' (a bus). Trippers will be asked to return with something that acts as a record of the trip, to add to the exhibition in the Gallery. All items will be documented, and returned at the end of the Show. The trip, and any performance/live art will be filmed.

There is currently no funding for this event, but we can offer gallery space, promotional material and curatorial support.
Patricia Wilson Smith on behalf of the LimboArts Curatorial team at Substation Project Space, Margate,Kent.

Deadline: Fri 16 May 2008.
Please include with your proposal a CV, artist's statement and 4/5 images of recent work. For more information, or to submit a proposal, please contact: Patricia Wilson Smith on
Visit the Limbo Arts website

Image caption: Hieronymus Bosch, Ship of Fools (painted c. 1490–1500)
Ship of Fools

What: Ship of Fools - Call for Submissions
Where: Substation Project Space, Margate, Kent, UK.
Further Details:
- Visit the Limbo Arts website
Contact: Patricia Wilson Smith on
Deadline: Fri 16 May 2008