Vokai is plural for eyelids and also envelops in Lithuanian. Io as a domain name stands for the Indian Ocean. Io is also one of Jupiter’s moons, named after the mythological character Io, a priestess of Hera, who was one of the mortal lovers of Zeus. With over 400 active volcanoes, Io is the most geologically active object in the Solar System.
In the age of interplanetary computation and stardust poetics, we would like to see Vokai.Io, the hybrid of aforementioned distant objects, as an exhibition tool or a vehicle for explorative operations.
Take, for example, a couple of famous lines from Rainer Maria Rilke’s tomb:
“Rose, oh pure contradiction, joy
of being No-one’s sleep under so many lids.”
Or a story about the trip that also includes eyelids as organised by Fluxus artist George Mačiūnas. In 1969, Mačiūnas planned to buy the uninhabited Ginger Island, one of the British Virgin Islands, and turn it into a cooperatively ran Fluxus Island. With sound artists Yoshi Wada, Milan Knižak and the actor Robert de Niro (son of an abstract expressionist painter and Black Mountain College graduate), Mačiūnas travelled to the island.
Yoshi Wada remembers:
“George planned to buy a large sailboat to take a world tour, and to make Ginger Island an artists’ cooperative. This island is located near St. Thomas, in the British Virgin Islands, a small island where nobody lives, but with a great climate. The team on this trip consisted of George Maciunas, Bob De Niro (the movie actor), Milan Knižak, Igor Demian & myself – for a wild ten-day camping trip. We prepared enough food for ten days – George insisted that we bring only powdered food and water.
Anyway, the five-crew members of the expedition landed at St. Thomas. A real estate broker took us by boat to Ginger Island. They promised to pick us up ten days later. They left us with no means of communication or a boat. We were totally deserted for that time in true Robinson Crusoe style. George knew about it, but the rest of us did not. It was too late to get upset and scream. I realized that this would be one of the most memorable trips I would ever take, be it Fluxus or not.
On the first day we decided to camp under some nice looking small bushes. The next morning, when we woke up, everybody’s eyes hurt. George was in the worst shape; he could not open his eyes at all. Everybody was sick. Later on we found out that these nice looking bushes were deadly poisonous.
We did not have that much to eat. The scariest thing was that there was no means to communicate with the outside world. Finally the realtor came back to pick us up. George signed an agreement to buy Ginger Island.
After we returned to New York, George arranged meetings to form Ginger Island Cooperative. But hardly anybody felt it was realistic and the project got lost. Robert de Niro was filming this trip and probably still has a film. I’m sure I will never experience this kind of wild adventure again.”
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