Pulau Run, or Run Island is one of the Banda Islands, a small archipelago in the Maluku Province of Indonesia. These are the Spice Islands, famed from the period of early European expansion in the New World. The Banda Islands were at one time the only source of nutmeg, a highly sought after and fought over commodity in Europe, and Run Island was a key outpost of the British East India Company. Following the Anglo-Dutch wars, in 1667, the Dutch and the British exchanged various territories in their different spheres of power and control; thus, the British gave up Run and gained New Amsterdam, now known as Manhattan.
Gill has recorded Run Island in black and white and color photographs, offering her characteristic slow, quiet gaze. Featured are the island, the nutmeg trees, the jetty, the village and the islet off the coast the locals call “Manhattan Island” – a playful reminder of the historic connection between what was once a site of global commercial importance and what the other became. In the process, the artist invites viewers to project their own versions of the present and the past, and contemplate lost opportunities and shifting fortunes through these images.
Also on view will be Untitled (2006), which was first exhibited at the Tate Modern earlier this year. The piece is comprised of over 100 books and pamphlets arranged in a specific order by the artist and displayed on long tables so that viewers can leaf through them. From this selection of books, the artist chose over 80 words which were then systematically torn out of each book and presented as artifacts in plastic collection bags on adjoining tables. Gill has compiled a wide array of texts ranging from pocket guides and manuals to books on psychology, botany, poetry, religion and politics. The work reflects on the politics of language and of words: how they stand in specific usage or alone, in groups of their like fellows or in complicated sentences and densely suggestive contexts, altering in their intensity, form and content in the shifting landscapes of the books.