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☟All was Ocean! All was Joy! (Or, How the Humans Broke the Ocean’s Heart)☟


32:9 video installation and flag, 17:58 mins, 2021



Stills from All was Ocean! All was Joy! (Or, How the Humans Broke the Ocean’s Heart)

Installation shots of All was Ocean! All was Joy! (Or, How the Humans Broke the Ocean’s Heart) at The Royal Academy of Art, The Hague

Patchworking together disparate research sources - including field work, biological reports, poetry, children's books, archeological lectures and cooking - into an aquatic fairytale, this work presents the North Sea as a being in and of herself. A being who, just like you, can have a broken heart.

Reflecting on the Dutch storm surge barrier - the Oosterscheldekering - as an intervention that cut the ocean's body in half, we are demanded to question the implications of artificially separating ocean and freshwater for the marine life that constitute the ocean.

Through a dreamt conversation with the ocean, in a world that exists in the mind's eye, the barrier is revealed as not only a physical but an allegorical divide erected by humanity in order to separate Fact from Fiction. Here, stories live in the salty depths of the ocean and are filtered through The Fact Checker (AKA the Oosterscheldekering) until the hard truths are revealed and solidified as rock deposits in the freshwater. However, reality is called into question when a group of otherworldly sea slugs become entangled with the story of Nehalennia, the ancient Goddess of the North Sea.


Credits
A film by Georgie Brinkman.
Sound design & additional camera by Alex Wight.
Sea slug flag costume by Peter Wertmann & Andrea Mugnai.
Voice of human trying to speak ocean: Nina Guo.
Music featured: Beserk (Guts Theme) by Susumu Hirasawa.
Sea slug photographs from Naturalis Biodiveristy Centre, Leiden.
With thanks to Benny Nemer, Katarina Zdjelar, Babak Afrassiabi, Jasper Coppes, Leonie Brandner, Lena Longefay, Debbie Brinkman.
Supported with funding from Leverhulme Trust.

References:
- The Marrow (1981), Ursula K. Le Guin.
- Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990), Salman Rushdie.
- The Beaches of Agnès (2008), Agnès Varda.
- Oral Traditions (2015), William Nu’utupu Giles & Travis T.
- First true brackish-water nudibranch mollusc provides new insights for phylogeny and biogeography and reveals paedomorphosis-driven evolution (2018), Tatiana Korshunova et al.
- The ocean in excess; towards a more-than-wet ontology (2019), Kimberley Peters & Philip Steinberg.
- Extreme autotomy and whole-body regeneration in photosynthetic sea slugs (2021), Sayaka Mitoh & Yoichi Yusa.
- Stemmen uit Zeeland / Voices from Zeeland (2021), Darko Lagunas for Embassy of the North Sea.
- Topstukkenlezing: Nehalennia / Masterpieces Lecture: Nehalennia (2021), Jasper de Bruin.