Ella Littwitz

The Unknown Land Of The South, 2017

Sirius

Steel, soil, 200 cm (Diameter) x 1 cm

Corpus Alienum

“South Land” (Terra Australis) is a hypothetical continent first posited in antiquity and appearing on maps between the 15th and 18th centuries. It was not based on any actual survey, but rather on the hypothesis that the world should be balanced. The idea of balanced land is one that exists since the 5th century. The desire to find such a utopian place, where artificial borders of political divisions do not exist, can be traced from contemporary writing back to various ancient and classical cultures. Ella Littwitz’s new sculptural work “Land of the Unknown South” investigates the potential of this idea, well aware of how reinterpretations of the past are appropriated to construct convenient histories. The sculpture creates a new piece of land composed of soil from the 24 countries that forbid the artist entry because of her nationality. Littwitz draws borders between the soils of these countries by following the 24 longitudes as early cartographers did. The steel base of the sculpture reflects the severity of contemporary divisions as well as the complexity (and flexibility) needed not only to get in, but also to get elements of a country out. In doing so, it comments on how efforts towards something like a “South Land” demand openness towards the unknowns of both yesterday and tomorrow. Currently soil from 17 countries compose the sculpture as collaborators in certain places could not find solutions for shipping due to technical or legal issues, or pulled out citing fear of government. In successful cases, collaborators often put themselves at risk to support the project and requested to stay anonymous. Littwitz will continue to work on sourcing soil from all 24 countries and update the sculpture accordingly.

 

Harlan Levey