Rachel Berwick

Lonesome George Lonesome George
2005 - 2007

Dimensions:  20’H X 45’W X 45’D and variable
Materials: cast “volcanic” black glass, fans, video projections, fabric sails

Project Venues:                   
2005 Brent Sikkema, New York, NY
2005 Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA
2007 Wadsworth Athaneum, Hartford, CT

“Lonesome George” is a mixed media installation inspired by a tortoise (named Lonesome George) from the Galapagos Island Abingdoni, who was the last of his kind. Through the use of video, cast and blown glass elements, fans and sails, I reference the history of this subspecies from Darwin's interest in the Galapagos tortoises at the nexus of evolutionary theory, to their near-extinction. Full scale sails stretch 20’ high and 18’ deep, intersecting the space between two video projections of Lonesome George. In one video Lonesome George simply breathes in and out, keeping time like the second hand on a clock. In the second video Lonesome George walks slowly toward the camera, stretches out his neck and then pulls back, receding into his shell. The exhale triggers fans, mounted on the ceiling, to inflate the sails for the duration of the exhale. Once the exhale is complete, the sails go limp and the cycle starts again.

The cast Galapagos Tortoise carapaces (or shells) in this project are full scale, 45”H X 30”W X 40”L. While one is a clear cast, another is cast in black “volcanic” glass in reference to the geologic time that defines the Galapagos Islands, the setting where this countdown to extinction took place.

Note: On June 24, 2012 Lonesome George died marking the apparent extinction of his subspecies, Geochelone Abingdoni.

Lonesome George - installation
Lonesome George - detail
Lonesome George - detail
Lonesome George - detail