Antarctica World Passport Delivery Bureau (FIAC / Southbank Centre)

Date: 2012
Ref: 5077
Materials: Bureau construction in various reclaimed materials, chairs, red cross crates, objects. Edition of 30,000 Antarctica World Passprts, passport stamps, ink pads
Dimensions: Variable
Exhibition history: 2013, FIAC Hors Les Murs, Jardin des Plantes; 2012 Southbank Centre London| Festival of the World, UK
Courtesy: Courtesy of the Artists

The Antarctica World Passport project is a powerful example of Lucy + Jorge Orta's participatory and engaging work, which has evolved from the artists seminal expedition to Antarctica in 2007. The participatory aspect focuses on the question of what it means to be a world citizen today in the age of cross-frontier communication and invites audiences to become active members of an exponential interconnected virtual community. This project could not be more relevant as we witness the increase of nationalist tendencies, the building of walls and closing of borders around the world.

For the artists, Antarctica embodies Utopia: a continent whose extreme climate imposes mutual aid and solidarity, freedom of research, of sharing, and collaboration for the good of the planet. The immaculate ice landscape is a filter for the kaleidoscope that make up our nations and identities, concentrating the colours into the sum of light and the purity of a hope. The Antarctica World Passport is a proponent of a 'no-borders' reflexion.

The Antarctica World Passport Delivery Bureau was first presented at Lucy + Jorge Orta's survey exhibition at the Pirelli Hangar Bicocca in Milan (2008). It exists in different sculptural formats and the participatory action is re-activated each time. The passport offices are generally constructed with reclaimed wood and found objects including boats, water recipients, suitcases, toys, that tower and bulge over rudimentary structures synonymous with the shanty town and border crossings that artists have traversed in some of remotest corners of the planet. This passport office was presented as part of the Festival of the World at the Southbank Centre, London (2012) and re-activated for the FIAC Hors les murs in Paris (2013).

The process of application for a passport - the participatory performative experience - takes just a few minutes. The passport office is manned by passport officers trained to mediate with the general public and to distribute the passport edition. The applicant (audience) is requested to agree to a set of passport obligations that are presented by the passport officers and their personal data is entered into an application pothole. For each passport registered, a unique identification number (UIN) is automatically generated to authenticate the edition. The UIN is inscribed on each passport and stamped by the officer. The symbolic transferal of one's individual national identity, to that of the collective world citizen, is part of the artwork's performative element and embodies the notion of Operational Aesthetics, by inciting the general public to take action.

The registered passport citizens populate a new interconnected world map, a potent visualisation portraying the ‘no-borders’ mass-mobilization across the globe, from Europe to the hardest hit environmental and political catastrophe zones including the Solomon Islands, Philippines, Alaska, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Four passport editions have been printed, totaling 55,000 copies: Ed. 10,000 Hangar Bicocca Milan (2008); Ed. 30,000 Southbank Centre London (2012); Ed. 10,000 La Villette Paris (2014); Ed 5,000 Frieze Projects London (2017).

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