Janet Bellotto has a new exhibition curated by Koan Jeff Baysa opening at MOCA London. The Canadian-Italian artist Janet Bellotto presents her exhibition Relation-Ships (Existence Doubtful) that brings Sable Island to MOCA London. The island, a protected National Park Reserve of Canada, is a 13 square mile sliver of an isolated sandbar 109 miles southeast of Nova Scotia in the Atlantic Ocean. It is noted for its extensive history of shipwrecks and a place where only two mammals survive: seals and horses, occupying a place that seems untouched by time. In one of many attempts to transform this island, eight hundred trees were planted to keep it from disappearing. A colonization venture by the French using convicts failed at the end of the 1500s. Seal hunters, shipwreck survivors and salvage personnel have intermittently occupied the island. On charts, it was once designated ED, Existence Doubtful, a term used principally to indicate that its actual existence had not yet been established.
Islands around the world have long offered promises of dreamland paradises and the realities of ship graveyards. There are ephemeral and transient qualities of such landmasses, surrounded by water, that become the basis for fantasies. Water flows through Bellotto’s work: oceans and waves, submersion and reflections, in-between states that are fluid and aqueous. This exhibition has a wide embrace of tangible events on an island and the hope of survival.
The history of this geographically distant island provides new possibilities for settlers and seafarers, with potentials of symbolizing future progress, particularly in the field of cultural tourism, and prospects in the development of habitation and historical narratives of its existing environment. However, considered the Graveyard of the Atlantic—Sable Island, the exhibition Relation-Ships (Existence Doubtful), reveals that what is doomed to disappear.
Viewed from the street, footage of the horses and seals, intercut with shifting images within fog will be projected onto the front glass walls of the gallery. Upon entering the gallery, one will see a dramatic display of the names and dates of the shipwrecks, as well as images on screens showing scenes of daily life on a nearly forgotten fragment of sand uniquely and virtually bereft of human presence.
Janet Bellotto received an MFA from Concordia University, Montreal. Her practice encompasses sculpture, installation, photography, video and performance. She is Associate Professor and Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Creative Enterprises of Zayed University in Dubai. www.janetbellotto.com
Janet Bellotto Relation-Ships (Existence Doubtful) October 2 – 31, 2016