The Possibility of an Island

Import Projects

May 23, 2013

May 16–July 20, 2013

Finnisage: July 20, 7–10pm

Import Projects
Keithstrasse 10
10787 Berlin
Hours: Thursday–Saturday noon–6pm

T +49 30 95 6183 23
info [​at​]

Artists: Julieta Aranda / Mohamed Azzam Axza / Goldin+Senneby / Daniel Keller / Antti Laitinen / Mariyam Omar / Bik Van der Pol / Alexander Ponomarev / Andrew Ranville / Antoine Renard / Nicholas Roberts

Curators: Elena Gilbert & Nadim Samman

Since Plato, through Defoe and Swift, via Gauguin, and in the work of numerous contemporary artists, the island topos has been employed to negotiate relationships between the real and the imaginary, utopia and dystopia, selfhood and otherness, centre and periphery. This exhibition charts the topography of this intellectual archipelago—interrogating the possibility of isolation in the 21st century. Just as John Donne reported his discovery—that ‘no man is an island, entire of itself,’ but ‘a piece of the continent, a part of the main’—so Thoreau announced that ‘the smallest stream is a Mediterranean sea.’  In the particular, macro potential is revealed. The Possibility of an Island surveys the strange connectivity between islands and mainlands, green-zones and battlefields, tax-havens and street corners, private fantasy and collective unconscious.

For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half known life. God help thee, push not off from that isle, for thou cannst never return!
–Herman Melville in Moby-Dick

The settlement always includes within itself what it nominates as its other. “Isolated” is an urban concept. It is a product of the city. To leave the map behind is a uniquely urban fantasy. It is those at the center of the pattern who talk the most about escaping it. But their escapes are usually just extensions of the pattern, demonstrations that the city knows no limit.
–Mark Wigley

Just as the boatman sits in his small boat, trusting his frail craft in the stormy sea that is boundless in every direction, rising and falling with the howling, mountainous waves, so […] the individual man calmly sits, supported by and trusting the principium individuationis.
–Arthur Schopenhauer

The Possibility of an Island has been produced in association with the Maldivian Exodus Caravan Show and Danish artist Soren Dahlgaard. The Maldivian Exodus Caravan Show will present a selection of works and performances during this year’s Venice Biennale. For more information, visit

Import Projects is a nonprofit curatorial initiative in Berlin, Germany founded in 2012 by Anja Henckel and Nadim Samman. Hosting exhibitions, performances and symposia, Import provides an experimental platform for contemporary cultural production and debate, primarily exploring the intersection of technology, personal identity and community.