Berwick’s Bumpkin Island Art Encampment
If you (like me) didn’t make it to the Berwick Research Institute’s Bumpkin Island Art Encampment out in Boston Harbor last summer, you can sort of experience the installations and performances via documentary videos now posted at the Berwick website. Pictured here from top to bottom are Gabriel Cira, William McKenna and James Sannino’s “Orchitecture”; “Dragonflies and Angelwings,” an installation of dragonfly drones by Sharon Dunn, David Tamés and Alice Apley; and “Ebb and Flow” in which Kate Dodd “claimed” the islands intertidal zones by marking the peak tides with surveyor’s tape. The encampment is an idea rich with inspiring possibilities, but watching the videos, I’m disappointed by the shallow thinking, the casual colonial-type mindset and the traditional American junking-up the place (even if the artists insist they removed their junk when they left).
The most interesting idea was Gabriel Cira, William McKenna and James Sannino’s “Orchitecture,” which proposed introducing a new species of apples to the island by scattering apples around and, as one of the fellows explains, using “our bodily processes as kind of a vehicle for encouraging the apples to germinate.” Another of the guys elaborates, “like the seeds passing through our systems directly, but surprisingly, the apples seemed to go in, but not really come out.” It brings up a theme lurking in several of the works, an elemental theme of colonial exploration: of bumpkins struggling in unfamiliar places and things not quite working out. One of the guys notes, “I’ve been feeling kind of weak because of just eating apples, but it usually passes and you get your energy back.”