Holt/Smithson Foundation is delighted to announce details of its first artist commission. The Island Project: Point of Departure invites Tacita Dean, Renée Green, Sky Hopinka, Joan Jonas, and Oscar Santillán to develop proposals responding to an island in Maine that was purchased sight-unseen by Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson on September 30, 1971.

At the mercy of the weather and rising sea levels, Little Fort Island is a small coastal island outside of Harrington, Maine that palpably demonstrates the changing state of our planet. Smithson made two drawings outlining potential projects for the island before visiting. When he arrived at Little Fort Island in 1972, Smithson decided not to proceed with the meandering earthwork proposals as he felt the landscape was too picturesque.

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. The five invited artists will think with Holt/Smithson Foundation 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, coming to fruition over the next five years.

Lisa Le Feuvre, Executive Director of Holt/Smithson Foundation, says, “Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson transformed the world of art and ideas. Since our inception, working with artists has been at the heart of Holt/Smithson Foundation’s activities. We are honored Tacita, Renée, Sky, Joan, and Oscar will be thinking with us over the coming years about Little Fort Island, and we are immensely looking forward to learning with them. These five artists open Holt and Smithson’s ideas to the present, sharing a commitment to generative research. Islands are special places whose edges are never at rest; they are sites for the imagination and tangible locations with distinct biographies.”

Artist Selection Process:
Holt/Smithson Foundation worked with an external Nomination Panel to select the artists for the Island Project. The external members of the Nomination Panel were Ulisses Carrilho, Aaron Cezar, Katya Garcia Anton, Paul Ha, Sohrab Mohebbi, Simon Njami, Sharmini Pereira, Griselda Pollock, Magda Radu, Ryan Rice, Gabriela Salgado, Chris Taylor, and Gaëtane Verna.

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.