Depth Projection, Maldives Pavilion, Venice, Italy, 2013

Fielding States: Depth Projection
Marcos Lutyens
Maldives Pavilion
That an island of such nature and size once existed is evident from what is said by certain authors who investigated the things around the outer sea. Proclus’ commentary on Plato’s Timaeus The Gervasuti Foundation, venue of the Maldives Pavilion for the Venice Art Biennial, is pleased to announce Fielding States: Depth Projection, a performance by Marcos Lutyens.

Depth Projection involves a hypnosis induction which invites guests to enter into a trance state and perceive the world as having become under-water, not just intellectually but rather as an ‘incorporated’ state of mind. The unconscious has often been associated with water and Carl Jung noted that ‘water is the commonest symbol for the unconscious’, so it’s a small step for us to take the watery unconscious mind to meet the impending reality of a world in which water levels are rising, and cities and states that are currently above water, will soon find themselves below. Malé, the capital of the Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, as much as the city of Venice both see themselves confronting an impending sea-change in water levels. This is a violent reality in terms of the impending challenges that populations in low-lying areas will soon be facing. In the case of the Republic of the Maldives, which is the lowest country in the world, with a maximum natural ground level of only 2.4 metres, the prospect of the na tion being underwater by 2080 is very real and the likelihood of the population becoming environmental forced or emergency migrants
is extremely high. In November 2008 President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives announced contingency plans to look for land in India, Sri Lanka and Australia for a possible population transfer, to avoid the prospects of the Maldives inhabitants becoming climate refugees living in tents indefinitely. The consequences of longer term climate change may actually already be embedded in ancestral or even genetic knowledge, as what may be termed as bodyknowledge. The Maldives, for instance, according to Tamil lore was originally part of a huge landmass called Kumari Kandam, a version of Atlantis in the East. Tamil nationalists claimed that this lost continent was once called Lemuria, and was the birthplace of all languages. According to this tradition, the Maldives are now the last remaining vestiges of this huge land mass, and as such are destined to join the rest of the sunken continent.

On this vector of speculative fabulation, perhaps one could adopt a stance of ‘standing one’s ground’ and instead of migrating, accelerate adaptation to rising sea levels by a process of speciation, in which a new human physiology could evolve that can breathe under water as much as in the air.

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