For his spellbinding installations The Island of Dr. Mastrovito and The Island of Dr. Mastrovito II, Italian artist Andrea Mastrovito filled a room with thousands of hand-cut life-size images pulled from nature books. In this simulated landscape, flora and fauna abound, covering with joyous fecundity the bare walls of No Longer Empty in Governors Island, NYC and later Switzerland’s MuDAC museum.
The work is inspired by science fiction classic The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells, in which a mad scientist performs cruel experiments and vivisections in hopes of transforming animals into people. Like that belonging to Moreau, Mastrovito’s island is composed of cut and reconfigured creatures, yet in this retelling, the animals are at long last set free to reclaim a wilderness that has been taken from them. Mastrovito examines the cycle of birth and death, repurposing paper made from cut trees to give rise to new life. Surging from the pages of scientific books, his creatures invade the civilized domestic space, causing it to positively burst with a fertile, animalistic energy. At the close of each installation, the books are shut and re-shelved, their animal inhabitants put to bed until they can spring to life once more.