Artist to set sail in former migrant boat
Lucy Wood will travel in a craft used by fleeing Libyans
By Ermanno Rivetti. News, Issue 237, July-August 2012
Published online: 03 July 2012
It took just over a year of negotiations with the Italian authorities for the British artist Lucy Wood, who is represented by Upstream Gallery in Amsterdam, to obtain a boat that was used to transport Libyans to Italy during the Libyan revolution in 2011.
The Sicilian island Lampedusa’s position between the Italian and African coasts has, over the years, made it a destination for refugees from North Africa, who see it as a gateway to Italy and Europe. In a bid to encourage debate around migration and refugees, Wood plans to single-handedly sail the nine metre-long boat from Lampedusa to London between April and May 2013. She will stop in Malta, Sicily, Naples, Rome, Genoa, Monaco, Marseilles, Arles, Avignon, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam before making her way up the Thames.
Conceived as a piece of performance art, the boat contains items left by the original migrants as well as objects stored and collected by Wood during her stay in Lampedusa. The performance is intended to draw attention to the conditions that many migrants face during their dangerous journeys: Wood wants to invite local cultural institutions and artists to collaborate on talks and events at different stops on her voyage.
Wood is adamant that her piece does not take a political stance, and insists she is doing it to raise awareness. “The local government was initially concerned I’d use the boat against them, politically speaking,” she says, “but I’m just the messenger”. This piece is the fourth part of Wood’s project about migration, called “Distant Neighbours”, which she started in Mexico in 2009. She is taking intensive sailing coursesto improve her skills, and is looking for sponsorship. “I have been thinking about applying to the Arts Council England, and I’m also looking at other options,” she says. The trip, which is expected to cost around £24,000, will be recorded by Wood in a blog, “The Chronicles of Lampedusa”.
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