As joint recipients of the 2009 Commonwealth Connections International Arts Residency, artists John Howland and Anna-Maria O'Keeffe travelled to the Pacific nation of Kiribati for four months to develop artworks in response to sea levels rising and climate change.
This video features footage from the interiors of fresh water wells (Te Maneba) and the setting and retrieval of eel traps (Te Uu) in the ocean. The work was produced with the assistance of local eel fishermen and permission of owners of the wells. To capture the well imagery a system of fishing line and scaffold made from local materials was assembled, allowing a waterproof camera to be lowered slowly into the wells. The observational footage shows two aspects of daily life in Kiribati, which has remained largely unchanged in the long history of subsistence living and continues in accordance with natural rhythms.
In light of dire forecasts about climate change and some sensationalist reportage of a catastrophic future for Kiribati, subtle metaphors emerge. An eel trap bears an uncanny resemblance to a gabled house submerged in the ocean. A lone figure dives into the endless blue depths. A rising and falling perspective traverses the margin between dry land and water. The underwater scenes of the traditional eel traps rising and falling in the blue depths are particularly poignant, uncannily referencing an I-Kiribati family dwelling. Water is encountered in every direction in Kiribati, even just metres below the surface of the narrow atoll landforms. Rising and Falling – Kiribati brings the relationship between people, land, home, sustenance and fresh and salt water into consideration through a poetic, observational approach.
CCP’s Night Projection Window using the 3M Vikuiti rear projection film
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Exhibited in CCP's Night Projection Window
7 nights a week after dark
Centre for Contemporary Photography
404 George St, Fitzroy Victoria 3065, Australia
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Seven nights after dark