Fogo Island Dialogues

Featuring leading thinkers in their respective fields, the Dialogues address critical questions faced by the global community in the 21st century. The initial series of conferences, beginning in July 2013, looks at the topic of “the livelihood and renewal of remote communities.”

Fogo Island Dialogues: Belonging to a Place
Location: Fogo Island Inn (Newfoundland, Canada)
Dates: 19–20–21 July 2013

Artists and thinkers gather on Fogo Island off the northeast coast of Newfoundland to discuss art and rural renewal, in the first of an international series of think tank events.

Islands have long been considered laboratories for the study of evolution. Their restricted scale, isolation, and clear boundaries create unique selective pressures. As such, the requirements to maintain, renew and preserve the realities of every island will be unique—a logic that extends to the idea of rural locations in general.

The Fogo Island Dialogues inaugurate a series of interdisciplinary conferences that will bring together key thinkers from the international and local communities—arts professionals, academics, economists, geographers, planners, architects whose knowledge and experience bring value to these discussions of issues related to the livelihood and renewal of rural locations. The Dialogues are an initiative of Fogo Island Arts, a residency-based contemporary arts institution located on Fogo Island, off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. Each edition of the Dialogues will focus on how art can influence social change, exploring the roles that art and artists can play in such initiatives. While the topics addressed by invited speakers are international in scope and implication, the discussion will take as its focus Fogo Island, the current site of an ambitious rural renewal project. The Fogo Island Dialogues take Fogo Island as inspiration or catalyst for the exploration and understanding of other locations. Using the idea of an island as a metaphor for any rural locale, the concept of the island-as-laboratory is tested through dialogue. 

‘Urban renewal’ has been widely discussed—perhaps to the extent that it is at risk of becoming a platitude —whereas ‘rural renewal’ is only now gaining momentum as a point of interest. Under this heading, certain social fields are calling out for preservation: local knowledge—including nature as a source of knowledge—traditions and heritage. While local traditions may be threatened in many communities around the world, the speed with which they face extinction in rural areas is accelerated by the real threat of depopulation and resettlement, and a seemingly concomitant focus on investment in urban areas. What are the implications of this phenomenon of global urbanization for rural populations? And for the knowledge, traditions and heritage that is specific to each location?

Acknowledging the timeliness and urgency of these questions, the Fogo Island Dialogues will consider whether islands can still be said to exist or whether they have been subsumed into the broader global land- and imaginary mass, through increased flows of communication, connectivity, corporatism and travel. Is this a new Pangæa? Or has globalization made us all (islanders, metropolitans and everyone in-between) insular? Do our communities become more defined when viewed through the eyes of others? As such, are the challenges facing islands, or, more broadly, rural communities, all that different from those in urban centers? In addition, what exactly is being preserved and by whose authority? Perhaps local knowledge isn’t relevant or expandable to other sites. At what point should tradition be allowed to become history?

The initial iterations of the Dialogues will take place at The Fogo Island Inn (19–20–21 July 2013) where participants consider the notion of belonging to a place; and the MAK in Vienna (17–18–19 November 2013), where we will consider the disruptive effects of the digital on knowledge production and modes of consumption; details about further editions of the Dialogues taking place in 2014 will be announced soon.

Fogo Island Dialogues is a conference series curated by Amira Gad (Associate Curator, Witte de With, Rotterdam); Gareth Long (Artist, London/Vienna); Nicolaus Schafhausen (Director, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna and Advisor Fogo Island Arts/Shorefast Foundation).



Erika Balsom (Lecturer in Film Studies at King’s College; London); Paul Dean (Geologist; St. John’s); Amira Gad (Associate Curator, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art; Rotterdam); Fabrizio Gallanti (Associatee Director, Programs, Canada Centre for Architecture; Montreal); Piero Golia (Artist; Los Angeles); Rosemary Heather (Director of Publications and Communications, Fogo Island Arts; Toronto); Gareth Long (Artist; London/Vienna); Tom McDonough (Associate Professor and Chair, Art History, Binghamton University; Ontario); Lars Müller (Publisher; Baden); Lívia Páldi (Director, BAC-Baltic Art Center; Visby); Judy Radul (Artist; Berlin); Simon Rees (Curator, MAK–Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst; Vienna); Dieter Roelstraete (Senior Curator, MCA; Chicago); Nicolaus Schafhausen (Director, Kunsthalle Wien and Advisor Fogo Island Arts/Shorefast Foundation; Vienna); Kitty Scott (Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, The Art Gallery of Ontario; Ontario); Todd Saunders (Architect, Saunders Architecture; Bergen); Tobias Spichtig (Artist; Zurich); Monika Szewczyk (Visual Arts Program Curator, Logan Center for the Arts; Chicago); and current artists from Fogo Island Arts’ residency program: Katie Bethune-Leamen (Artist; Toronto); Mark Clintberg (Artist and Writer; Montreal); Janice Kerbel (Artist; London); Silke Otto-Knapp (Artist; London); Jerry Ropson (Artist; Sackville). Fogo Islanders participating in the Dialogues: Chris Dwyer, Clem Dwyer, Jack Stanley, Kevin Decker, Lillian Dwyer, Margaret Decker, Mary Decker, Norm Foley, Pete Decker, Roy Dwyer, Sandra Cull, Sheila Payne, Zita Cobb.



For reservations to attend the Fogo Island Dialogues, please contact [email protected]

For more information including a detailed program schedule, contact: [email protected]