The intoxicating myth of discovering terra incognita was the inspiration behind Portuguese author Jose Saramago's tiniest tome. In his dinghy-sized 50-page story, The Tale of the Unknown Island, the protagonist asks a king for a seaworthy vessel to search for an island no one thinks really exists.
The scribe's musings on the quest for greener grass brought together Spanish artists Esther Villalobos and Mar Solis in a collaborative project six years ago. The women are launching their own quixotic vision of Saramago's fable tomorrow at the Frost Museum of Art. Through it, they wade deeply into the author's exploration of literary symbolism and themes splashing across memory, dreams, death and renewal, from the perspectives of their own work.
"We have been working on a version of this project for several years and exhibited it once already in Lisbon, Portugal," Villalobos explains. She is displaying a suite of photographs, which that are dark in nature and convey the reverie Saramago's voyager falls into while he plunges toward uncharted realms.
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"My work is focused on the part of the book dealing with dreams," Villalobos says. "My photographs depict roots that appear at the beginning of the book. My interpretation of the source material is dark because I find that places that are shadowy or dimly lighted are the best places to meditate or concentrate," she says.
"It's an abstract sculpture of an island that is also a forest and a vessel at sea," Solis says."What inspired me most about the book is the unbridled pursuit of an impossible dream when no one else will share your beliefs."
"The Tale of the Unknown Island" opens at the Frost Art Museum (10975 SW 17th St., Miami) tomorrow at 6 p.m. The exhibit is up until March 13. Admission is free. Call 305-348-2890 or visit thefrost.fiu.edu