Saturday 28 & Sunday 29 September 2013
Maldives Pavilion & Library of Historical Archives of Contemporary Arts – ASAC, Venice
The Contingent Movements Symposium forms part of the public program of the Maldives Pavilion, and provides critical input for the Contingent Movements Archive, a curatorial research project conducted over the period of the 55th Venice Biennale by Hanna Husberg and Laura McLean, and developed with Kalliopi Tsipni-Kolaza
Contingent Movements Symposium locations
Maldives Pavillion at Gervasuti Foundation,
Fondamenta Sant’Anna (the continuation of Via Garibaldi),
Castello 995, Venice
Library of Historical Archives of Contemporary Arts (ASAC)
access from Calle del Paludo Sant’ Antonio (behind Giardini area),
The disappearance of the Maldives beneath the sea is a speculative hypothesis, though a likely and compelling one. The Earth’s average temperature appears set to rise beyond levels considered to have knowable outcomes, and today there is an emphasis on mitigation and adaptation, rather than prevention, in national and international law and policy relating to climate change.
But is dissolution, rather than disappearance, perhaps a more appropriate term to describe the changing state of the Maldives? Already the coral islands are being eroded by rising tides, which take beaches and palm trees with them, while salt water permeates the soil. In a material sense, the islands will not disappear, but they will retreat from human use as the archipelago dissolves into the Indian Ocean.
The former president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, established a ‘sovereign wealth fund’ to purchase land abroad in anticipation of the displacement of his constituents, proposing Australia, India, and Sri Lanka as territories for relocation. A nation faces a constitutional crisis if all land is lost, and no sovereign territory can be established on foreign soil. The maintenance of territory is one of the key constituting elements of statehood, and should land not be maintained, the state of the Maldives could be legally dissolved.
The prospect of statelessness in this case is a real one. Under current international law there is no such thing as a ‘climate refugee’. Refugee status, and therefore the protection of human rights by host nations, is not currently afforded to individuals displaced by ‘natural’ forces. The acceptance of individuals displaced from low-lying islands into other nations as refugees is thus at present problematic.
Speculating on the contingent circumstances Maldivians may face as a permanently displaced population, and exploring these within a global context, the Contingent Movements Symposium addresses the potential humanitarian and cultural consequences of this situation. Contributors from a range of disciplines have been brought together to think through the effects of national and international law on human movements, and consider how mobile technology and the Internet might assist in preserving the culture of Maldives, while helping dispersed communities adapt and connect.
In financial terms, the role of speculators is to absorb excess risk that other participants do not want, and to provide liquidity in the market place. The Contingent Movements Symposium aims to provide liquidity in the market of ideas surrounding an unprecedented scenario with a not-yet-fixed outcome. Hosted in the archives of the Venice Biennale, on another island affected by floods and inundated by tourism, it seeks to open a dialogue on the future of the Maldives, and the complexity of global responsibility in the face of the world’s changing climate.
Symposium contributions by Alfredo Cramerotti (CPS Curator, Maldives Pavilion), Mariyam Shiuna (researcher), T.J. Demos (writer and theorist), Ravi Agarwal (artist and curator), Klaus Schafler (artist, Maldives Pavilion), Maren Richter (Associate Curator, Maldives Pavilion), Rosa Barba (artist and Film maker), Marianne Franklin (writer and researcher), Nabil Ahmed (artist and curator), Davor Vidas (writer and researcher), Suvendrini Perera (researcher), Irit Rogoff (writer and theorist), Stefano Boato (urbanist and political activist), Luca Zaggia (scientist), Dorian Batycka (writer and curator), Mike Watson (curator and theorist).
Part of the public program of the Maldives Pavilion, the Contingent Movements Symposium and Archive are curated by Hanna Husberg and Laura McLean, and developed with Kalliopi Tsipni-Kolaza.
The Maldives Pavilion is curated by Chamber of Public Secrets, a critical production unit of art and culture. Alfredo Cramerotti and Maren Richter, both curators of the Maldives Pavilion, are moderating discussions at the Contingent Movements Symposium.
Also in association with the Maldives Pavilion, Richter and artist Klaus Schafler and will take symposium participants on a boat trip to the lagoons of Venice, where they will discuss with Venetian urbanist and activist Stefano Boato and scientist Luca Zaggia the recent effects of the rising sea level in the region. Curator and writer Dorian Batycka and curator and theorist Mike Watson, currently in residence at the Gervasuti Foundation, will introduce the project Joan of Art: Towards a Free Education and present a course on art, politics and ecology to be delivered in November.
The Symposium has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body. It is also supported by Frame Visual Art Finland, Arts Promotion Centre Finland, and Svenska Kulturfonden, Finland. It is partnered with Maldives Research.