Ship o’ Fools


Ship o’ Fools


Mixed media installation

6 minute loop

30 x 9.5 x12'

Ship O' Fools was first produced and comissioned by Luminato Festival, Toronto, with generous support from Hal Jackman Foundation and the Ontario Arts Council

Cardiff & Miller

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller salvaged a thirty foot Chinese junk boat, transported it to their studio in the interior of British Columbia, and transformed its cabin into an immersive environment.

The installation title refers to the long-standing allegory of the ship of fools that has been a powerful theme within western literature and art. This allegorical vessel is inhabited by deranged, frivolous passengers who travel with no captain, sailing ignorant of their direction. The metaphor serves as the framework for the fifteenth-century book Ship O’ Fools by Sebastian Brant and the inspiration for Hieronymus Bosch’s painting of the same title.

Viewers enter the cabin of Cardiff and Miller’s creation to encounter a maze filled with playful yet foolish contraptions. It is as if you have entered an underground workshop for nonsense existing in an alternative universe. Sounds and shifting lighting enhance this atmosphere. The objects /experiments that occupy the cabin are more than a reflection of the traveler’s obsessions; they are an escape route for the viewer into a forgotten world.


  • Various Machines and Sculptures in collaboration with: Stephan Bircher, Carlo Crovato, Gord Fuller, Robyn Moody
  • Construction / Renovation: Eric Fagervik, Eric Kutschker, Amy Huppler, Jeff Person
  • Sound Design in collaboration with: Titus Maderlechner