Flickering Shores, Sea Imaginaries, this year’s edition of the Sea Art Festival, is inviting us to rethink our relationship with the sea, referring to the beauty but at the same time, the fragility of our shores, and exploring alternative frameworks and visions for engaging with the ocean and marine environments.
            The sea is deeply embedded in our lives and capitalist society, a vital source for our survival, but also a vast industry we exploit for food, medicines, energy, minerals, trading, travel and so on. But increased human activity, from extensive cruise tourism, shipping and overfishing to nuclear testing, pollution and deep-sea mining have been plaguing the sea, having a huge impact on marine ecosystems and habitats.
            Instead of viewing the sea from the coast as a divided and abstract surface for moving around commodities, Flickering Shores, Sea Imaginaries reminds us that we are part of this body of water. This year's Sea Art Festival aims to explore new relationships with the sea and its ecologies, enabling spaces for cooperation, collective visions and synergies as a call to resistance and restoration.
Flickering Shores
Sea Imaginaries


Liquid Time

                                            Liquid Time (Jacob Bolton & Miriam Matthiessen), a research duo working around shipping, finance, and the temporalities of maritime worlds, was established in 2023. Jacob Bolton is an architectural researcher interested in supply chain violence and resource struggle. Miriam Matthiessen is a researcher interested in critical logistics and urban political ecology. Together with Eliza Ader, they also run the Abandoned Seafarer Map, an online (counter)-mapping project tracking the systemic abandonment of seafarers by ship owners and the shipping industry at large.                                                                                    


                                            Hypercomf is a multidisciplinary, speculative design artist identity that was first established in Athens in 2017 as a fictitious company profile, but is actually based on the island of Tinos, Greece. Hypercomf’s research subjects often focus on the relationships between nature and culture, domestication and ecosystemic networks, tradition, and technology, as well as challenges faced by small island communities. Their practice fosters interdisciplinary collaborations and community engagement methods of production which often include a range of biodiverse participants. These processes are manifested as space activations, multimedia artworks, and sustainable design prototypes and objects, and are structured around dynamic narratives that feature both organic and inorganic protagonists.                                                                                    

Gary Zhexi Zhang

                                            Gary Zhexi Zhang explores connections between cosmology, technology, and the economy. He is the editor of Catastrophe Time!, a book of financial fiction. Dead Cat Bounce, an oratorio he made with Waste Paper Opera, premiered in 2022. His last solo show, Cycle 25, documented events at the boundaries between speculative belief and the material world, like natural disasters, scam nations, and cosmic economies. His work has been shown at the Venice Architecture Biennial, the Power Station of Art, Shanghai, and Para Site, Hong Kong. Upcoming commissions will be presented at the Art Gallery of York University, EPFL, Lausanne, and Eastside Projects, Birmingham.                                                                                    

Emma Critchley

                                            Emma Critchley is an artist who uses water as a formal material property in a range of media, including film, photography, sound, installation, and dance. Her work explores the underwater environment as a political, philosophical, and environmental space, and has been shown extensively nationally and internationally in galleries and institutions, including the official Italian pavilion of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021. Her current project, Soundings, explores how film, sound, and dance might be used to connect us with the deep ocean to help foster the meaningful connection needed to inspire care for the deep sea and its ecosystems.                                                                                    

Lab C

                                            Lab C works with the keywords “plant,” “region,” and “art.” Lab C, a collaborative duo made up of Mira Park (Forest Curator) and Changpa (Art Director), studies the experience they had in one particular place in the past after carefully observing one single part of Busan’s mountains and surrounding sea over a long period of time. They have presented curatorial programs such as Time to Ramble, Time to Ramble: The Sea, and Cosmos in One Square Meter by curating viewers’ experiences.                                                                                    


The Seasteaders

Jacob Hurwitz-Goodman
                                        While our oceans already face a huge amount of stress from climate change, plastic pollution, oil spills and over fishing, how can proposals for sea floating dwellings be sustainable or non-threatening to marine ecosystems?

Seasteading, the concept of creating dwellings floating at sea, colonizing oceans and bypassing territories controlled by governments, has been around for a long time. Floating structures anchored in international waters, beyond the "territorial sea" of any country, have included refitted oil platforms, modified cruise ships, or custom-built floating islands and structures to name a few.

Jacob Hurwitz-Goodman and Daniel Keller’s film The Seasteaders documents the first Seasteading conference in Tahiti, talking with Seasteading evangelists like controversial author Joe Quirk and Seasteading Institute executive director Randolph Hencken to get firsthand accounts of the Seasteader’s beliefs and visions for an aquatic future. While much remains to be worked out, not least of all the fundamental problem of the place of “shesteaders,” the Seasteaders hope they can float on changing tides as they colonize the world’s waters.

Founded in 2008 by former Google software engineer Patri Friedman with financial backing by PayPal founder Peter Thiel, the Seasteading Institute envisions a fluid world, where governments are selected in an open market and climate change can be “hacked.” Seeing rule by the majority as ineffective and oppressive, the Seasteaders propose a libertarian future of floating micro-governments, where user-citizens can detach and rejoin at will and law looks less like constitutions and more like software. To implement their plan for a nautical future, the Seasteaders have begun working with the government of French Polynesia to build the first floating islands in a special economic zone off the coast of Tahiti, after facing large-scale public opposition in Honduras.

Seasteading evangelists, in a similar way to Silicon Valley techno solutionists, are presenting the society as a system that can be modified, managed or controlled. A group of entrepreneurs proposes to create new markets and worlds that fit their needs for a rules-free society. But while these initiatives present floating societies as solutions to housing needs, environmental challenges or a way to escape badly governed nations, how can we know for sure that these sea structures are more than tax avoidance bubbles or extravagant retreats for the rich?                                    

Moheet Derya Haeyang Ocean Ocean Ocean

                                        Jane Jin Kaisen, Of The Sea, 2013, Single channel video, color, sound, 2min. 15sec.
In Of the Sea, the artist is seen walking along the black lava rock shore of Jeju Island where her mother and grandmother used to earn a living as haenyeo, women sea diver. She is carrying discarded items used for diving as well as the book Annals of the Jeju Haenyeo’s Anti-Japanese Resistance written by her grandfather while he served as Head of the Commemoration Committee for the Jeju Haenyeo’s Anti-Colonial Resistance Movement. The book was published in 1995 on occasion of the First Memorial Ceremony for the Jeju Haenyeo Anti-colonial Resistance, a movement that erupted in 1931-1932 when the haenyeo started marching in protest against the Japanese colonial forces along the same coast where the artist is seen walking almost eight decades later.
The video is juxtaposed with the song Song of the Haenyeo, the notes of which are printed on the first pages of the artist’s grandfather’s book. The song is composed around a Japanese melody, but the lyrics are altered and are written by Gwan-soon Gang, a social activist and leader of the resistance movement, while he was imprisoned. The song, although it was banned, was sung by haenyeo and attests to the gendered dimensions of Jeju haenyeo culture, the harsh and dangerous vocation of diving, and their reliance on the sea for survival.
While the careful treatment of the book and the diving tools allude to an attempt at preserving history and bridging the gaps in time and the transmission of intergenerational knowledge, the video ends before the artist reaches the sea. Walking with unsteady awkward movements and dressed in clothing and boots unfit for the environment, there is a sense of discontinuity and rupture, which stands in contrast to the lyrics of the song. In recent decades, haenyeo diving culture has drastically diminished due to modernization, societal changes, industrial farming and destruction of the oceanic environment. With it, the knowledge of the sea and diving, along with the matriarchal cosmology of Jeju and shamanic spiritual culture connected to the sea, is no longer being seamlessly passed on from mother to daughter.

Gilles Aubry, Atlantic Ragagar, 2022, Single channel video, color, sound, 31min. 43sec.
Shot in collaboration with biologist Younes Boundir, Atlantic Ragagar is an experimental film on seaweed and pollution on the Moroccan Atlantic coast. With its clear water, the Sidi Bouzid beach hosts dozens of seaweed species. Further south in Safi, marine biodiversity suffers from pollution caused by industrial phosphate plants. The film is an attempt to listen to coastal life, inviting the spectator into a process of ecological transformation. If pollution often remains hidden in the landscape, the effects of toxicity are rendered through the voice and bodily presence of the main character performed by Imane Zoubai. As she hums, sings, breathes, and silently interacts with algae, a new figure progressively emerges, “maouj”, an aquatic body open to transcorporeal and interspecies speculations.

Calypso36°21 & Derya Akkaynak, Untitled, 2021, Single channel video, text, sound, 9min. 4sec. Supported by Sea Art Festival 2023.
The sound piece Untitled (titled by Calypso36°21) was created by oceanographer Derya Akkaynak to explain to a large audience her discovery ‘Sea-Thru’. She records herself on her phone. Instead of narrating and explaining Sea-Thru in a scientific way, ‘objective’ and cold, Derya talks about the loss of her mother, her relationship to the sea and how those elements helped her make a huge breakthrough for the ocean. Derya gifted this piece to Justine Daquin in 2021 after a discussion they had together that was part of a larger project of interviews with female ocean scientists. They all approach their discipline with intuition and emotion and thanks to this way of practicing science, made major discoveries and helped heal and care for the ocean.

Jane Jin Kaisen(born 1980 in Jeju Island, lives in Copenhagen) is a visual artist, filmmaker, and Professor of the School of Media Arts, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.
Spanning the mediums of video installation, narrative experimental film, photographic installation, performance, and text, Kaisen’s artistic practice is informed by extensive interdisciplinary research and engagement with diverse communities. Through multi-year projects and collaborations, she has engaged topics such as transnational adoption, the Korean War and division, the Jeju April Third Massacre, and Cold War legacies. Another recurring focus revolves around nature and island spaces, cosmologies, feminist re-framings of myths, and engagement with ritual and spiritual practices. Her works negotiate and mediate the means of representation, resistance, and recognition, thus contouring alternative genealogies and sites of collective emergence.
Kaisen is a recipient of the New Carlsberg Foundation Artist Grant (2023) and a 3-year work grant from the Danish Arts Foundation (2022). She represented Korea at the 58th Venice Biennale with the film installation Community of Parting (2019) alongside artists Hwayeon Nam and siren eun young jeong in the exhibition History Has Failed Us, but No Matter curated by Hyunjin Kim. She was awarded “Exhibition of the Year 2020” by AICA - International Association of Art Critics, Denmark for the exhibition Community of Parting at Kunsthal Charlottenborg. Kaisen has participated in the biennials of Liverpool, Gwangju, Anren, Jeju, among others, and she had numerous solo exhibitions including recently Jane Jin Kaisen: Braiding and Mending at The Image Centre (2023), Of Specters or Returns at Le Bicolore (2023), Currents at Fotografisk Center (2023), Parallax Conjunctures at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (2021), and screenings Dislocation Blues: Jane Jin Kaisen, Tate Modern (2023), Ceremony (Burial of an Undead World), Haus der Kulturen der Welt (2022) to name a few.
She holds a PhD in artistic research from the University of Copenhagen, Department of Art and Cultural Studies, an MFA in Interdisciplinary Studio Art from the University of California Los Angeles, an MA in Art Theory and Media Art from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, and she participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program.

Gilles Aubry is a Swiss artist, musician and researcher based in Berlin. His work explores sound and listening as embodied, technological, and ecological practice. His installations, films, performances and radio plays are presented internationally in art institutions, film festivals and music venues. Recent projects include The Gramophone Effect, a sound piece with Robert Millis and the Indian collective Traveling Archive, commissioned by Documenta14 (2017, Kassel and Athens); Black Anthenna, a performance with Nathalie Mba Bikoro for the Tuned Cities Festival (2018, Ancient Messene); Salam Godzilla, a film essay shot in Agadir on the 1960 earthquake (2019, FID Marseille), and The Whistle, a sound installation by the VACUT Group (Voices Against Corruption and Ugly Trading), commissioned by OTO Sound Museum in Zurich (2022). 

Derya Akkaynak is a Turkish engineer and oceanographer whose research focuses on imaging and vision underwater. She has professional, technical, and scientific diving certifications and conducted fieldwork from the Bering Sea to Antarctica. Akkaynak was a finalist for the 2019 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists for resolving a fundamental problem in underwater computer vision—the reconstruction of lost colors and contrast which led to the development of the Sea-thru algorithm.                                    

Aquatic Garden

                                        The Mariana Trench is the deepest point in the ocean, extending nearly 36,000 feet down in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean. One might think that the deep sea such as at this point in the Pacific might be a dark, lifeless place, and a place with no signs of human activity. But recent explorations showed that not only the Mariana Trench is a place of diverse life, including different species such as corals, octopus and jellyfish, this deep ocean, remote place couldn’t escape human impact as plastic and chemical pollutants have also reached the deepest parts of the ocean.

Currently up to 199 million tons of plastic are polluting our oceans, and if we continue to produce so much plastic, by 2050, our oceans will have more plastic than fish, continuing to affect marine life, fisheries, coastlines, tourism, and our food chain.

Studio 1750, taking as a starting point their previous work Parallel Gardens (2018), they have created an imaginary garden, an artificially changing environment that alludes to environments being transformed by human intervention, but also to a bizarre coral-reef like structure. This new installation and almost alien environment, Aquatic Garden, invites visitors to a walk-through, while assuming the role of a new and peculiar species that mutates and evolves due to environmental or genetic influences in order to survive such an unnatural environment. Mutation, an “error” in DNA replication or resulting from damaging effects of pollution, radiation or chemicals, becomes a battle coming to terms with loss. In this performative, but also playful and interactive installation, the artists are expressing their concerns and anxieties for a world changing towards the unknown.

Aren’t we humans, who are inhabiting cities of desires made up of artificial structures, objects and artificial gardens, accelerating the spread of new viruses as errors of our collective “intelligence”? In the present, living in a future that was feared in the past - we hope it is now the time to ask questions about what the sea means to us and what future we imagine for this ecosystem.

Visitors are invited to make a sea creature paper hat at the Sea Art Festival Lab to wear and be part of the installation.                                    

Bricks from the Sea

Yang Jazoo
                                        Just over 40 years ago, most houses in Korea were earthen houses. Before the Saemaul Movement - the political initiative launched in the 1970s to modernize the rural South Korean economy - demolished all the houses, the walls and ceilings of both tiled and thatched houses were all finished with soil mixed with rice straw and reeds. In these houses people communicated between the thin layers made of window paper, which functioned like windows today. In any country, town or city, traditional houses are constructed using materials easily found within their local surroundings. In Korea, such materials were soil, wood, stone, and rice straw.

Jazoo Yang has been interested in traditional Korean hanok and thatched houses and has been researching archives and other relevant sources about the rapidly disappearing earthen houses. During her research, she found out that there had been a type of dwelling in Busan using seaweed as a construction material. Many refugees, who moved to Busan during the Korean War in the 1950s, had to build temporary and quick shelters using materials that they could easily find within their local proximity. Therefore, during the war, instead of rice straw, one of the ingredients of traditional earthen houses, they mixed seaweed, the material easiest to obtain on the beach, with soil to build a house.

The artist, as part of an ongoing research, has been exploring the earthen houses made of seaweed remnants of which can be found in seaside refugee villages, including Yeongdo, Busan, in order to examine and understand the architectural and construction techniques of refugees, especially the methods of using seaweed and soil as building materials.

In her installation for the Sea Art Festival 2023, Bricks from the Sea, as in other of her artworks, Jazoo Yang incorporates these methods of using soil and seaweed into the construction of her work itself, bringing back to life a now-forgotten, but ingenious and creative frugal innovation.                                    

Floating Fragments

Seema Nusrat
                                        What is the impact of our accelerated urban and suburban development on the environment, nature and heritage? How much more can urban development expand into natural habitats without disturbing the equilibrium?

Today, the world’s population is three times larger than in the mid-twentieth century, and in November 2022, the globe’s population reached 8 billion people. With increasing numbers of people also comes an inevitable growth and growing demand for urban development, and while cities become densely populated, they expand into rural peripheries.

Floating Fragments serves as a commentary on the swift and uncontrolled growth of urban development. With an increasing demand for space to accommodate a fast-growing population, the expansion of cities has not only disturbed the delicate equilibrium of natural habitats but it has also obscured our cultural heritage.

The artwork draws inspiration from local architecture, and in particular traditional roof tiles, presenting us with a partially submerged roof over water, and creating an unsettling perspective. This prompts us to reflect on the current trajectory we are navigating, highlighting the discord between urban development and the preservation of nature and heritage.

The artwork also calls attention to the risk of flooding, the impact of which is being felt in many areas and communities across the world, and is likely being exacerbated by climate change. As we continue to warm the planet with greenhouse gas emissions, and water warms and expands, and as sea levels rise, the frequency and intensity of extreme flood events,                                    

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