The Contingent Movements Symposium took place at the Maldives Pavilion and at the Library of Historical Archives of Contemporary Arts (ASAC) of the Venice Biennale over the 28th and 29th of September 2013.
Speculating on the circumstances Maldivians may face as a permanently displaced population, and exploring these contingencies within a global context, it addressed the potential humanitarian and cultural consequences of this situation. Contributors from a range of disciplines thought through the effects of national and international law on human movements, and considered how mobile technology and the Internet might assist in preserving the culture of the Maldives, while helping dispersed communities adapt and connect. Presentations have been archived here to be accessed by a wider audience.
Suvendrini Perera (Curtin University) challenges the island as a sign of spatial completeness as she discusses three island states - the Maldives, Sri Lanka and India - as artefacts of colonial history now cast into states of ontological, political and environmental crisis. While Mariyam Shiuna (Maldives Reseach & SOAS, University of London), through a focus on processes of democratisation in the Maldives, engages with questions relating to the preservation of Maldivian culture, history and sovereignty should the nation cease to exist. Marianne Franklin (Goldsmiths, University of London) speculates on floating digital archives as a medium for preservation and regeneration of cultural heritage.
Contesting the violence of ‘unintended consequences’ of climate change, Nabil Ahmed (Goldsmiths, University of London) asks how shifting territories redefine legal and political definitions and boundaries, and whether new laws need to be imagined. Davor Vidas (Fridtjof Nansen Institute, Norway), chair of the committee on International Law and Sea-level Rise and member of the Anthropocene Working Group of the International Commission on Stratigraphy, in turn develops on the challenges of international law in response to sea-level rise in the 21st century. T.J. Demos (University College London) considers how various environmental crises are increasingly bringing about forced displacements, approaching discussions of political ecology, environmental crisis, and artistic and activist aesthetics in the current global moment. Having investigated the relations between location, positionality, subjectivity and arts practices in her work, Irit Rogoff (Goldsmiths, University of London) goes further to reconsider recent shifts in relation to place and the exhaustion of geography.
Ravi Agarval joins for discussion following a screening of his work The Sewage Pond's Memoir. Rosa Barba's film Outwardly From Earth's Centre was also be shown.
Also in association with the Maldives Pavilion, artist Klaus Schafler and curator Maren Richter took symposium participants on a boat trip to the lagoons of Venice, where they discussed 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, introduced the project Joan of Art: Towards a Free Education and presented a course on art, politics and ecology to be delivered in November 2013. http://joanofart.net/the-venice-process/