Alex Hartley’s Nowhereisland

Alex Hartley’s Nowhereisland


Nyskjaeret, the origins of Nowhereisland in the High Arctic. Photo: Max McClure.

July 12, 2012

Alex Hartley

25 July–9 September 2012

Produced by Situations
Follow the journey @nowhere_island #nowhereisland

An Arctic island will journey south this summer to arrive for the UK’s hosting of the Olympic Games as a visiting island nation. On its journey, the island passed through International Waters and was declared a new nation with citizenship open to all.

Nowhereisland is conceived by artist Alex Hartley as a nomadic public artwork—as one landscape moving through another and a symbolic territory representing thousands of citizens across the world.

The urge to seek out and possess the remote and unfamiliar landscapes at the ‘edges’ of the world has been an enduring creative impulse for artists and writers. Hartley discovered the island in the High Arctic in 2004 and was the first person to set foot on this territory. From Hartley’s act of attempted colonization to secede the island from Norway in 2004–6 emerged a multi-faceted artwork—Nowhereisland—conceived specifically for the context of the UK’s hosting of the Olympic Games in 2012.

Accompanied by its mobile embassy, the island will voyage 500-nautical miles around England’s southwest coast this summer, hosted by eight ports and harbours.

Nowhereisland is a work of land art for our times. Its simple narrative premise—the journey of a small migrant island—acts as the nation’s emblematic back-story. And yet, Nowhereisland is not simply a story. It is above all sculptural—a provocative act of material displacement by the artist. If national boundaries shift, if peoples are displaced, if territorial rights are contested, Hartley asks, why should landscape itself not move, and what are the implications of this island’s journey in 2012?

Citizens and Resident Thinker programme
Nowhereisland has already gathered around it a growing constituency of citizens, achieving an international following from over 100 countries across the world. Over 700 propositions have been made for the world’s first open access online constitution. Every week one of 52 resident thinkers, ranging from artist Yoko Ono to human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, have been tackling the question, “If you were to start a new nation, where would you begin?”
Sign up to become a citizen and contribute to the constitution at

Journey dates
Nowhereisland journey dates: Weymouth (25 July–2 August); Exmouth (4–5 August); Torquay (6–7 August); Plymouth (9–12 August); Mevagissey (13–16 August); Newquay (23–27 August); Ilfracombe (1–4 September); Bristol (7–9 September). Dates are weather-dependent.

Book now for The Last Days of Nowhereisland, a programme of films, calls to action, and performances in Bristol at

Alex Hartley
Working primarily with photography, often incorporating it into sculpture and installation, Alex Hartley’s work addresses our attitudes toward the built and natural environments. Hartley has exhibited extensively in both national and international exhibitions including The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2007); The National Museum of Art, Osaka (2001); and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark (2000). Alex Hartley is represented by Victoria Miro, London.

Nowhereisland is produced by Situations, an award-winning visual arts commissioning and publishing organisation.

Spike Island
133 Cumberland Road
Bristol, BS1 6UX, UK

T 01179304282
M 07989647948
@situationsuk on Twitter

Nowhereisland is one of 12 Artists Taking the Lead projects for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, funded by Arts Council England. We also gratefully acknowledge the support of the University of the West of England, Bristol; Bloomberg; Paul Hamlyn Foundation; Nicky Wilson Jupiter Artland; the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Royal Norwegian Embassy; and Yellowbrick Tracking.

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July 12, 2012

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