Bouvetøya: A Cultural History of an Isolated Landmass.
Bouvetøya: A Cultural History of an Isolated Landmass is the first published history of the most remote island in the world. The book by artist Freddy Dewe Mathews is designed as a field manual, with 32 full colour illustrations within a red waterproof cover and uses excerpts from both dubious historical expeditions and fictions that use the island as their setting.
While parts of some existing books and journals deal precisely with the natural history of the island and its scientific value, the purpose of this book is to examine and map its cultural history. It looks at the imposed culture of a place without people. It presents the history of human interaction with the island and how we managed to make pregnant the physical landscape of such a removed and alien landmass. This psycho-geographic proposition is particularly relevant in the case of a land without significant or sustained human presence. It is this distance and very blankness, derived from the island's physical separation, which allows for the projection of myths onto it, myths which now shroud it in an ambiguity as impenetrable as its own perennial fog.
Paired with the text, is photography selected from the archive at the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromsø, specifically from a scientific expedition to the island in 1978. This trip is responsible for the most comprehensive understanding we have of this uninhabited and seldom visited land.
The project has been supported by Arts Council England.
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