I returned to plant sculpture, found materials, and environmental installation in a low-tech context as a participant in the 2007 Bumpkin Island Art Encampment. This unusual event, organized by the Berwick Research Institute, Island Alliance, and Studio Soto, took place over labor day weekend on a small island in the Boston Harbor.

Using the metaphor of homesteading as a point of departure, 40 artists in ten groups will embark on new artistic and geographic terrain. With only the materials they can carry on their backs and a short 5-day window of time, the artists will adapt ambitious projects to the challenges and opportunities of an island environment.

Part residency, part survivalist experiment, and fully impressionable, malleable, speculative and reflective, the Encampment allows artists to explore new possibilities, removed from the distractions and discourses of the mainland. Yet, like an explorer with a partially drawn map to be fully formed in expedition, the project presents itself as a microcosm of transparent, possible attributes and actions for a culture stripped bare and invented anew.

Our team built sculptures comprised entirely of materials we scavenged from around the island. Our creations – a giant twig chicken, a goat with internal organs made of garbage, and a rusty metal pig – embodied a Darwinesque fantasy of exotic, mutated, feral creatures on a remote island. The results of the project were documented in the Land Grab exhibition at APEXART in New York City, and featured online at the German art site wooloo.org.

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