What Can a Desert Island Do? - Curated by Paul Pieroni

Pernille Holm-Mercer / Ines Rebelo / Guy Allott / Kasper Sonne / Eemyun Kang / Troels Carlsen / Marc Raue / Walker and Bromwich / Matthew Glamorre / Mike Harte

‘To dream of islands, whether with joy or in fear, is to dream of pulling away, of being already separate, far from any continent, of being lost and alone, or to dream of starting from scratch, recreating, beginning anew.’ - Gilles Deleuze

Escape, pure escape, is merged with a concomitant set of artistic investigations into themes as varied as colonial history, science-fiction, semiotic deconstruction and revolutionary politics to form the conceptual core of What Can a Desert Island Do?, a group exhibition inspired by Gilles Deleuze’s contribution to the desert island allegory and its persistence in the western cultural imagination.

For Deleuze, addressing the theme in his until recently unpublished essay Causes et raisons des iles desertes (1953), it is the very force of the separate geography of the desert island that drives what humanity precariously exists there into microscopically sharp focus; on the desert island we can either conform with the social coding inherited from our point of origin (like Crusoe) or break free and be reborn, become anything, even disappear. By isolating its agents from the quotidian patterns and social avenues of domestic culture and in forcing their behaviour into stark relief, the desert island can profitably be read as an exemplary zone for protean creativity. Deleuze’s desert island, like ours, is never simply a geographical representation, rather it exists virtually - as an extended plot point or plateau for a special set of creatures and creatings.

Pernille Holm-Mercer’s digi-print text work Words of Advice (2006) is a stark, sober, though nonetheless poetic, set of statements designed to warn a nameless subject of the perils and temptations set to befall those who break free from the normative controls of regular sociality. Troels Carlsen resources antique documents such as maps, charts and diagrams - reframing each found work with a new layer of critical interpretation.

Walker and Bromwich are escape artists par excellence. From an inflatable desert island, presented as a DIY kit for home production, to a full size inflatable raft-island sailed triumphantly down the river Thames; the duo take a light hearted, though nonetheless rigorous, approach to addressing the desire to break free and escape from the regularity of the everyday social order.

Mike Harte presents a work that addresses the original curatorial motivation for his inclusion in the show. In a draft press release sent to him on the 21st of October, it was written, "merited by behaviour as opposed to production, the inclusion of the eponymous Mike Harte is warranted by his continually self-coordinated desire to disappear artistically". The clear relation between between Harte’s well-documented ephemeral persona (he has been both muse and contributor for a series of projects by Jamie Shovlin) and the idea of disappearance, a key notion in the ontology of Deleuze, made his inclusion a genuine move. However Harte disagreed and his contribution to the exhibition is a documentation of this objection.
What Can a Desert Island Do? - Curated by Paul Pieroni


Event Title: What Can a Desert Island Do? - Curated by Paul Pieroni
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