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The Unknown Land Of The South, 2017

Steel, soil

200x200 cm

Imagine traveling the world without a passport, a world without borders, a world without nations. You would only know you were entering another part of the world because the language changes, the architecture, the landscape, the climate, the flora and fauna. Borders are artificial constructs, vestiges of war, armed conflicts, or negotiations.

We are so accustomed to traveling with our passports that we never contemplate the prospect of going wherever we like without our laissez-passers.

But even in the possession of a passport we cannot go everywhere at will. Some nations will deny us entry because they do not like our country of origin, they might deny our existence or our right to call our country a nation at all. As a consequence of her Israeli nationality, Ella Littwitz is denied entry in 24 countries.

To transcend this idea of being unwelcome in large parts of the world, Littwitz investigated the idea of a utopian place where artificial borders and political disagreements do not exist. She based her sculptural work The Unknown Land of the South (2017) on the legendary Terra Australis Incognita, a hypothetical continent first imagined in antiquity by Ptolemy. He based its existence on the hypothesis that the continents in the Northern Hemisphere should be balanced by an equal landmass in the South, something already speculated by Aristotle.

The sculpture is a new piece of land composed of the soil from the 24 countries that deny Littwitz’s entry because of her nationality. As the borders between these countries follow the longitudinal lines of a globe, in the sculpture they each lie side by side forming the circular shape of a pie and its component slices. Up until now Littwitz can only show the soil from 17 countries. For technical or legal reasons it has been impossible to gather the soil from seven countries. The collaborators who have supplied her with the soil have often had to put themselves at risk to get it out of the country of origin. Littwitz will continue her attempt to acquire the soil from the absent countries and turn her utopian ‘Unknown Land of the South’ into a poetic reality.


Katerina Gregos

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