July 16, 2013 - Fogo Island Arts - Fogo Island Dialogues: Belonging to a Place
July 16, 2013

Fogo Island Dialogues: Belonging to a Place

Fogo Island, Newfoundland, Canada, March 2013. Photo: Steffen Jagenburg.

Fogo Island Dialogues: Belonging to a Place
19–21 July 2013

Fogo Island Inn 
Newfoundland, Canada


Islands have long been considered laboratories for the study of evolution. Their restricted scale, isolation, and clear boundaries create unique selective pressures. As such, the requirements to maintain, renew and preserve the realities of every island will be unique—a logic that extends to the idea of rural locations in general.

The Fogo Island Dialogues inaugurate a series of interdisciplinary conferences that will bring together key thinkers from the international and local communities—arts professionals, academics, economists, geographers, planners, architects whose knowledge and experience bring value to these discussions of issues related to the livelihood and renewal of rural locations. The Dialogues are an initiative of Fogo Island Arts, a residency-based contemporary arts institution located on Fogo Island, off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. Each edition of the Dialogues will focus on how art can influence social change, exploring the roles that art and artists can play in such initiatives. While the topics addressed by invited speakers are international in scope and implication, the discussion will take as its focus Fogo Island, the current site of an ambitious rural renewal project. The Fogo Island Dialogues take Fogo Island as inspiration or catalyst for the exploration and understanding of other locations. Using the idea of an island as a metaphor for any rural locale, the concept of the island-as-laboratory is tested through dialogue.

‘Urban renewal’ has been widely discussed—perhaps to the extent that it is at risk of becoming a platitude —whereas ‘rural renewal’ is only now gaining momentum as a point of interest. Under this heading, certain social fields are calling out for preservation: local knowledge—including nature as a source of knowledge—traditions and heritage. While local traditions may be threatened in many communities around the world, the speed with which they face extinction in rural areas is accelerated by the real threat of depopulation and resettlement, and a seemingly concomitant focus on investment in urban areas. What are the implications of this phenomenon of global urbanization for rural populations? And for the knowledge, traditions and heritage that is specific to each location?

Acknowledging the timeliness and urgency of these questions, the Fogo Island Dialogues will consider whether islands can still be said to exist or whether they have been subsumed into the broader global land- and imaginary mass, through increased flows of communication, connectivity, corporatism and travel. Is this a new Pangæa? Or has globalization made us all (islanders, metropolitans and everyone in-between) insular? Do our communities become more defined when viewed through the eyes of others? As such, are the challenges facing islands, or, more broadly, rural communities, all that different from those in urban centers? In addition, what exactly is being preserved and by whose authority? Perhaps local knowledge isn’t relevant or expandable to other sites. At what point should tradition be allowed to become history?

The iterations of the Dialogues will take place at four very different institutions: The Fogo Island Inn (19–21 July 2013), where participants consider the notion of belonging to a place; the MAK in Vienna (17–19 November 2013), where we will consider the digital as a place where modes of knowledge and consumption have complicated the status quo; and finally, the Dialogues return to the Fogo Island Inn for a concluding event to take place in 2014. Fogo Island Dialogues will inaugurate a new phase of Fogo Island Arts’ evolution, which began with the opening in May 2013 of the Fogo Island Inn, home to the Fogo Island Gallery and its associated program of exhibitions, publications and international arts partnerships.

Fogo Island Dialogues is a conference series curated by Amira Gad (Associate Curator, Witte de With, Rotterdam); Gareth Long (artist, London/Vienna); Nicolaus Schafhausen (Director, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna and Advisor Fogo Island Arts/Shorefast Foundation).

Amira Gad (Associate Curator, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art; Rotterdam); Dieter Roelstraete (Senior Curator, MCA; Chicago); Erika Balsom (Lecturer in Film Studies at King’s College; London); Fabrizio Gallanti (Associate Director, Programs, Canada Centre for Architecture; Montreal); Gareth Long (artist; London/Vienna); Judy Radul (artist; Berlin); Kitty Scott (Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, The Art Gallery of Ontario; Ontario); Lars Müller (publisher; Baden); Lívia Páldi (Director, BAC-Baltic Art Center; Visby); Monika Szewczyk (Visual Arts Program Curator, Logan Center for the Arts; Chicago); Nicolaus Schafhausen (Director, Kunsthalle Wien and Advisor Fogo Island Arts/Shorefast Foundation; Vienna); Paul Dean (geologist; St. John’s); Piero Golia (artist; Los Angeles); Rosemary Heather (Director of Publications and Communications, Fogo Island Arts; Toronto); Simon Rees (Curator, MAK–Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst; Vienna); Tobias Spichtig (artist; Zurich); Todd Saunders (architect, Saunders Architecture; Bergen); Tom McDonough (Associate Professor and Chair, Art History, Binghamton University; Ontario); and current artists from Fogo Island Arts’ residency program: Janice Kerbel (artist; London); Jerry Ropson (artist; Sackville); Katie Bethune-Leamen (artist; Toronto); Mark Clintberg (artist and writer; Montreal); Silke Otto-Knapp (artist; London). Fogo Islanders participating in the Dialogues: Chris DwyerClem DwyerJack StanleyKevin DeckerLillian DwyerMargaret DeckerMary DeckerNorm FoleyPete DeckerRoy DwyerSandra CullSheila Payne, and Zita Cobb.

For reservations to attend the Fogo Island Dialogues, please contact Heather Morton by calling (709) 270 1001 or sending an email to heathermorton [​at​] fogoislandarts.ca.

About Fogo Island Arts
Established in 2008, Fogo Island Arts is located on Fogo Island, off the coast of Newfoundland in Canada. Fogo Island Arts is an international cultural institution functioning as a residency-based contemporary art venue for artists, filmmakers, writers, musicians, curators, designers, and thinkers from around the world. With the opening of the Fogo Island Inn in May 2013, Fogo Island Arts enters a new phase of its evolution, expanding its programs to include exhibitions at the Inn, publications produced in collaboration with international publishing houses, and partnerships with public institutions globally. These initiatives are part of a social enterprise-based business model that will support the economic viability of the Fogo Island Inn and the growth of sustainable tourism on Fogo Island.

The programs at Fogo Island Arts provide alternatives to more traditional international residencies and public art galleries in North America—in part due to the resourcefulness and creativity of Fogo Islanders, which provides a vital framework for the organization’s activities.

For more information: www.fogoislandarts.ca

For inquiries and press requests, please contact Rosemary Heather by sending an e-mail to: 
rosemaryheather [​at​] fogoislandarts.ca / info [​at​] fogoislandarts.ca

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