Extreme States of Impossibility

Extreme States of Impossibility

Andrew Friend, Giorgio Garippa, Oliver Palmer, Brett Swenson, Matthew C. Wilson,


Curated by Heba Amin and Francesca Girelli


Lastation (Piazzale Stazione 2, 1° piano Stazione Ferroviaria Gagliano – Leuca)

and  Piazza Immacolata


For centuries, the finis terrae has captured the imagination of dreamers and adventurers captivated by reaching remote frontiers and mapping unchartered territories. The fantasy associated with the end of the earth has nurtured a multiplicity of creative visions expressed through narratives and images. With the belief that territorial endpoints and their suggestiveness can become culturally productive, the southernmost area of Salento has been functioning as an activator and enhancer for artists developing ideas through DEFAULT, a cross-disciplinary artists’ think-tank biennially hosted at LaStation in Gagliano del Capo. Exploring both collective and individual development, the residency invites artists to reflect on geographical imaginaries with speculative approaches to historical and contemporary fabrications. At the core of the research is an in-depth reflection on the notion of extreme lands and the ways in which it affects individuals on personal, psychological, and artistic levels.


The participants of DEFAULT confront challenges, particularly relating to climate and environmental conditions, as a means to explore diverse interpretations of human and natural landscapes. Traveling to the finibus terrae and experiencing its remoteness produces various outcomes as artists interact with current geopolitics and social realities. Their analyses of the complex ties between frontiers and their historical shifts unearth the liminal spaces that reside within extreme lands. In attempt to broaden the discourse on the socio-anthropological characteristics embedded in such spaces, the research interrogates the fine line between official realities and perceived ones.


Extreme States of Impossibility presents a selection of works from the outcomes of the past two editions of the residency program. The artists in the exhibition consider the constructs and intrinsic incongruities hidden behind man-made borders, constructed boundaries and perceived end points. While reflecting on conventional understandings of territory, the works displayed provoke, critique and push the bearings of geographies as containers for broader psycho-topographies. They address shifting sea borders that are in constant motion, geological clocks that generate different time stratifications, cross-national transactions of individuals and products, as well as parallel knowledge systems correlated to cross-species communication. Extreme States of Impossibility approaches “extremity” as a state of mind to confront a contemporary world with fluid national identities and national boundaries that are no longer static. The research and resulting works bring forward proposed impossibilities shaped by the characteristics of the extreme land.



The artworks


Andrew Friend (London, 1985): Passing through two seas (2015) shows interest in the uncertain situations, investigating the grey zone in the irregular imaginary boarder of the Ionian and Adriatic Sea. Officially the two seas divide in Otranto, but their currents meet in Capo di Leuca. This way, the artist guide us to evaluate the boarders of the official realities and the ones perceived by the body.

Giorgio Garippa (Oristano, 1968) & Oliver Palmer (Harold Wood, 1982): No title (2015).

Garippa and Palmer are concentrated on arguments as travelling and immigration, such as the forgotten stories of the refugees who travel through dangerous routs in order to get to the foreign coasts, in particular the coasts in Salento. The easiness how commercial products travel through boarders and continents is contrasted with the prohibitions, which regulate the flows of human mobility.


Brett Swenson (Chicago, 1987): La/vora (2015).

The artistic research of Swenson follows experimental paths between action and re-action, intention and occasion, La/vora manifests as a modern metamorphosis. In Punta Meliso, the fossil remains of ancient corals, eroded and perilous walls of the Second World War and the debris accumulated after the influx of migrants merge in a single framework. Each of the three sections of the video represents a timepiece, a reflection on the millenarian stratification of the territory.


Matthew C. Wilson (North Carolina, 1982): Things in common between dreams and the behavior of animals and Grotta del Diavolo (2015).

Wilson recalls the past of Grotta del Diavolo (the „devils cave”), which is situated in Punta Ristora, Santa Maria di Leuca. It can be reached by the sea and the land from two entrances, one frontal and one from the back. The remains of bones, shells, weapons and utensils suggests that it was inhabited since the Neolithic. Inspired by a metalogue of Gregory Batedson, where the author raises the question if the animals think the same way as human’s dream. Wilson explores the possibility of communication between different species making the animals living in the cave interact with the pages of the book.

The artworks are exhibited in Piazza Immacolata.


The artworks of the artists, who participated DEFAULT17 explore the strategies of survival of the species, which inhabit in the extreme lands (Nayari Castillo); elements of intrusion and contrast with the local, human and natural landscape (Bonifacio – Veronesi); different levels of observation and interaction with the territory through optical devices and reproduction (Devin Kovach); the relationship between micro and macro scale and spirituality (Ruben Brulat).