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The Journey Embassy

Welcome to the Embassy


The Nowhereisland Embassy Photo: Max McClure

This section expands on the issues, themes and ideas associated with Nowhereisland. Like an Embassy, it holds the information and expertise concerning the nation. Similar ideas are explored, using mostly objects, in the mobile museum that accompanies Nowhereisland on its south west journey, also called The Embassy.

Nowhereisland began in a place far from the noise of the urban centres of the Western world. Far (it would seem) from the passport controls and security checks of our journeys across national boundaries. Far from the riots and protests of our streets. Far from the ringing of our phones, the buzzing of our cash points, the tapping of our keyboards. And yet of course, Nowhereisland began in exactly the place in which all the actions made by us and decisions made for us are brought to bear - the Arctic.

Nowhereisland carries with it the stories of the place from which it has come - its origins as an artistic act of discovery, its roots in the highly politicised territory of the High Arctic and the myths and stories through which it resonates as an artwork. The island also carries with it the aspirations of its growing nation of citizens from across the world and in doing so, becomes not simply an imagined place - a nowhere or 'utopia' - but a tool for imagining our world 'as if things were different' and an urgent call to action.

Embassy team Photo: Max McClure

Embassy team Photo: Max McClure

What distinguishes Nowhereisland from the artistic precedents on which it draws - from Robert Smithson's Floating Island (right) to John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Nutopia - is the journey that this island will take at this particular time. It is travelling from the High Arctic to the south west of England during the London 2012 Olympic Games. It is this status as a 'visiting' island nation in 2012, which marks out this floating island from its predecessors. The nation will be hosted at seven ports and harbours and symbolised by its island territory. In each of those places, a travelling Embassy will accompany the island - a mobile museum cared for and opened to the public by the Nowhereisland Ambassadors.

Always in sight of the island, the Embassy will take on the conventional role of representing the visiting nation (Nowhereisland) to its host nation (the UK) during the Cultural Olympiad. It will be a place at which citizenship can be conferred, ceremonial duties undertaken and it will carry with it the stories of its origins and will gather new stories as it moves from location to location.

Alex Hartley on Nyskjaeret, 2011 Photo: Max McClure

Alex Hartley on Nyskjaeret, 2011 Photo: Max McClure

This online Embassy offers a starting point from which to explore the multiple layers which comprise this artwork. Like many contemporary art works of this nature, Nowhereisland is durational (it unfolds over time); it is nomadic (it moves across locations, accruing different meanings in different contexts); it is physical matter (it is a sculpture comprising material from the Arctic and a collection of objects, documents, photographs and films in the Embassy); it is an intervention (a geological displacement of material, a landscape moving around another landscape); it is the words and images of others (speaking back to the project through the Resident Thinkers programme and Constitution) and it is a utopian idea (a conceptual nation involving thousands of people across the world shaping that nation's values and principles online).

If you are looking for resources to explore Nowhereisland with children and young people, you can also use the schools resources. These summarise each issue in relation to Nowhereisland, provide selected source material and suggest activities. There are links within each section to these resources or you can go straight to the schools resources section, where there is also an introductory animation made by High View Primary School and free downloadable Explorer Packs.

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Nowhereisland is a Situations project led by artist Alex Hartley, one of 12 Artist 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; Nicky Wilson Jupiter Artland; the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Royal Norwegian Embassy and Yellowbrick Tracking.

Identity designed by Fraser Muggeridge studio and Wolfram Wiedner, website by Wolfram Wiedner.