2013, Venice

is an invitation to set off on a cruise to the deserted island of Poveglia, located in the Venetian Lagoon. Poveglia is a key figure here: it was the location of a quarantine station, a lazaretto, a cemetery and finally, a 20th-century psychiatric hospital. All are forms of separation. Therefore, in Q, Poveglia with its history of diseases that have plagued humanity, becomes an image of the world. The spacious interior of the Polish Pavilion would be almost entirely occupied by a projection of Poveglia's shore as seen from the lagoon. There would be a map, which will also feature in the Atlas – a guide given to cruise passengers. It would include: geographical and medical iconography, texts on islands and epidemics, fictional narratives and true stories, scientific research, historical typologies and the phenomena of disease. The main function of the Pavilion would be to check-in the passengers - they could book a cruise and wait for the departure. Isolation seems to be a Venetian invention. From here originated words like quarantine, lazaretto and ghetto. Segregation of those who are healthy, normal, and proper from the sick, abnormal and improper is a feature / foundation of the European order. The idea of departure in a dense, claustrophobic structure that is always at a risk of collapsing can have many readings: it can be an escape, forced isolation, temporary or indefinite exclusion, a search for knowledge or utopia. A disease tests the strength and endurance of a social structure and a society as a whole. Its consequences strike all areas of life in a radical way, transforms and often destroys them. When it comes to an epidemic, the whole social body is subjected to a disease, which redirects remaining efforts to survival only. This state of emergency, in which every division disappears except for the differentiation of the healthy, the sick and the dead, fundamentally changes the face of a culture and leaves deep traces on it. Epidemics and disease understood in this sense - as an utter totality, are the essence of Q. The trip to the island, like a disease, is an individual experience linked with the impossibility of predicting the experiences of the other, random passengers. At the same time it goes beyond the established trajectories and routes, it is the realization of an ambiguous dream of departure, an island, an adventure, but also a risk. In conjunction with the Atlas it will become a dreamlike expedition into the depths of human history, subjected to a critical test, towards questions that touch the boundaries of knowledge and imagination. There would be a single, but significant, visual intervention: on the island of Poveglia will be placed a 1.5m-high sandstone egg. The egg is not a figure of disease, but a blind and predatory young life that hatches in spite of everything.

Phot. Ransom Riggs/mental_floss