Desert Island


1012822_456552277779069_350182108_nA new collection of essays explores the work of the artist Toby Phips Lloyd, especially his 2012 piece Desert Island, which was commissioned by the Institute of Advanced Study and Empty Shop.

The installation Desert Island features a recreation of a teenager’s bedroom, complete with CDs, gig tickets, and posters. The bedroom is perhaps – or perhaps not – a version of Lloyd’s own room as an adolescent. Within the room is a video of “Toby Lloyd” interviewing Toby Phips Lloyd, following the format of the BBC Radio 4 series Desert Island Discs. Lloyd questions himself in irreverent ways, wryly wondering about his life choices, success or failure as an artist, and the authenticity of his musical choices as parallels to his autobiography.

This piece raises questions about identity, and how we tell stories of our own lives. The art installation meshed with the work of the Narrating Time seminar series, run by Durham University’s Institute of Advanced Study. Members of this group, and other contributors, have now produced a collection of essays entitled Desert Island, which use Phips Lloyd’s work to explore themes of memory, autobiography, and temporality. Why is the desert island a site of imaginative interest? In what ways are our identities changing in the digital age? At what point does an adolescent become an adult? Why do we imagine twin doubles of ourselves taking the decisions we did not? These are some of the questions probed by the contributors to the collection, which also features a rich array of photographs and a transcript of the Desert Island audio.

Desert Island will be launched on 23rd January at 19.30 at Empty Shop HQ, 35c Framwellgate Bridge, Durham DH1 4SJ. This will feature acoustic music and a playlist collecting the Desert Island Disc choices of contributors. For more information, see the Facebook event here.

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