Agenda

Stefanie Knobel &
Samrat Banerjee

«Tropes of Submerged Breathing»

Multimedia Installation, 2021

 

The installation creates organs for an aquatic future through the activities of cutting, sewing and attaching to bodies seen on screens of submerged mobile phones. What would it be like to imagine yourself as an inhabitant of the many places in the world that will be submerged due to rising sea levels caused by global warming?

 

In the current human incarnation, we can only visit the underwater world, which is part of our own evolutionary history, for a short time. This inadequacy is the starting point of a conversation between the two artists that can be heard through headphones. The themes touched on in the conversation, such as race, class, gender and identity, materialise in the activity of sewing.

 

Palm leaves cut into gills, the breathing organ of fish, are sewn into a three-dimensional object. In this way, the artists open up a reference space to the Bay of Bengal, which extends over large parts of Bangladesh and India. According to climate forecasts, it will be completely flooded by 2050 and thousands of people are already forced to migrate. Many seek a livelihood in Dhaka, the capital of the textile industry, under the most precarious and, this is the provocative claim of the artists, at the same time more-than-human conditions: If the people of the Bay of Bengal had the knowledge and the means to make gills themselves, they would not have to leave their land and the land of their ancestors in the event of a flood. The act of gill-sewing thus challenges the undermining of the agency and resilience of the people most at risk from climate catastrophe, people who cannot be separated from the ecosystem in which they live.

 

Shedhalle – Stefanie Knobel & Samrat Banerjee «Tropes of Submerged Breathing»