Belonging to a Place: An Exhibition by Fogo Island Arts presents and celebrates a selection of artists who have participated in residencies with Fogo Island Arts, or will do so in the near future. The exhibition departs from a consideration of the concept of “place,” seeking to examine where we feel we belong and how we relate to multiple notions of belonging. Presenting sculpture, installation, film, video, painting and drawing, the exhibition features a cross-section of international contemporary artistic practice united by a common theme and shaped by the singular experience of time spent on Fogo Island, Canada.
Belonging to a Place is a collaboration between Art en Valise, Fogo Island Arts, and Scrap Metal. The exhibition is curated by Nicolaus Schafhausen, Director, Kunsthalle Wien and Strategic Director, Fogo Island Arts.
Who, or what, belongs to a place?
Ideas? Animals? Plants? People? Artifacts? Things?
It could be all of these, some, or none, depending on how you look at it.
In view of past and current political posturing, namely through the channels of nationalism connected to land, culture, and to the singular and abstract notion of place, the exhibition points to themes of territories–those inscribed by state powers as well as by the social, economic, and geographical factors that shape them. In addition, to speak of people and place, whether in terms of communities or individuals, is to consider identity. Can one person truly belong to one place? And if “a place” presupposes a space, then what exactly constitutes the space to which “a place” refers?
On a global level, the singular place implied could amount to the whole planet. Humanity, it can be said, belongs to our same, shared world: the physical environment and the ecosystems that sustain it, as well as the man-made, architecturally defined spaces of humans.
However, can the global function without the local? Does a place not call forth a specific site or location? The space to which “a place” could refer is rather open: material, immaterial or occupying somewhere in-between. Could “belonging to a place” signify, for instance, the property of a body, a place in one’s mind or within collective thought? Belonging to a place could be understood as a kinship to a site of worship or a political conviction; it may speak to a place in one’s heart or one’s family heritage. Should we, instead, ponder the notion of belonging to a plurality of places?
Belonging to a Place draws upon memories, on movement, and their material traces. Perspectives of exile and migration, voluntary or forced, are explored. At play in the works on view is the role of history in moulding collective and personal understandings of belonging. The fragility of memory, the forging of potential futures and thoughtful articulations of present-day concerns are probed by way of cutting out the chaos of former times or of today–fragmenting or creating forms which convey new interpretations on that which is to belong.