An exhibition by Jonathan Hoskins
“A world of disorderly notions, picked out of his books, crowded into his imagination…”
This exhibition uses video and installation to tell the story of one man’s utopian fantasies of harnessing the modern-mythic power of ships transporting vast amounts of energy across the oceans. From his confused understanding of the world, he transforms a canal boat using a collection of apparently inexplicable objects which appear both in the video and the exhibition space- a throne made of steel, a large brass instrument, domes of sprouting peat with proud golden masts, and a banner resembling an old map. With these, he embarks on a doomed voyage from London’s waterways to the sea.
Plus Ultra (‘go further beyond’) became the national motto of Spain in the 16th century, about half a century before Don Quixote was published and shortly after the discovery of the New World, an event which not only recast global geopolitics, but also transformed the world’s ecology forever. The exhibition uses storytelling as a device for embedding the objects in the exhibition with these and other cultural reference points; every component of our hero’s scheming has a basis in literature which has formed ‘our’ culture, from Thomas More and Francis Bacon, to red-top newspapers.
As these references, objects and images set one another within new contexts, the story of one man’s voyage comes to present questions of urban ecology, anthropocentrism, and geographic, economic and intellectual expansionism.