The derelict spaces surrounding Bucharest's Parliament building stand as a long contested site of failed visions - vast, inaccessible, vacant and disconnected from the city. The research study examines the history of the the area in instigation of a new vision to reclaim the area as a public park, transport hub and cultural epicenter for the city. In doing so, the park is envisioned as providing a site of democratic union between the government and the people. The proposal was publically presented in a move towards a government referendum on 14/12/2017.
Research and feasibility study
Commissioned by USR Romanian political party
Co-authored and designed with Dimitrie Grigorescu, Andrei Ducu-Predescu, Teodor Fratila, and Studio ACT: Horia Spirescu, Andrei Teodor Ionita, Victor Serbanescu
DISAPPEARING ISLANDS I: KANDHULHOODU
RAA ATOLL, MALDIVES 5.4638° N, 73.0347°
In August 2013 I embarked on a research expedition to the abandoned island of Kandhulhoodu, a remote and barely-documented speck of land lying in the North of the Maldives, the lowest lying country on Earth. Kandhulhoodu was once home to 3000 people but has now been abandoned, deemed officially unhabitable due to water intrusion. The old island town now lies deserted in ruins - barely documented, overgrown and increasingly inundated by water.
The islanders have over the past ten years been gradually relocated to a nearby, previously uninhabited island in a combined charity-and-government-led project. This development of a new town from scratch provided an sadly missed opportunity to build in tempo with the distinctive local water behaviour and tidal land shifts. Unfortunately, the project was controlled by foreign forces and did not take into account local knowledge, building techniques or an appreciation of the moving landscape nor changing seascape.
The new island, Dhuvaafaru, is in high danger of submergence as one of the lowest in the atoll, and due to the building process the natural protective vegetation and protective encircling coral wall was completely destroyed, and the ground level has now been levelled and lowered further still. The new island town sits even more perilously close to sea level than the former, the defensive coral wall around it dying, and the tidal sands constantly reshaping its borders. The community now faces a future just as precarious as their past.
This is a place where man is in continual battle with the sea, and people move futilely from place to place, caught in a cycle of resistance and abandonment.
DISAPPEARING ISLANDS III: GENMENDOO
DHAALU [SOUTHERN NILANDHE] ATOLL, MALDIVES
+2.7970° N, 73.0255° E
PARADISE LOST (II)
In February 2015 I embarked on a research expedition to the abandoned island of Genmendoo, in the Raa Atoll of The Maldives.
Gemendhoo was once a fishing village of 460 - large by local standards, and one of seven inhabited islands within the atoll. Most of the villagers were families between five and ten people, living in one- or two-room houses. The 2004 tsunami destroyed every building on the island and took with it eight lives, including two babies. Genmendhoo was abandoned almost instantaneously, and the majority of the population rehoused by the government on nearby Kudahuvadhoo, the atoll Capital.
Gemendhoo is part of a line of eleven closely-connected uninhabited islands running north to south. During low tides the sand flats which run between the islands are exposed and a thin connecting sand passage opens up, allowing the islands to be walked between along for a stretch of 7 kilometers from Bulhalafushi in the north to Naibukaloabodufushi in the south. Each island is covered by dense rainforest, coconut plantation and an abundance of mosquitoes.
I was lucky enough to access the island to photodocument the remains of an otherwise deserted paradise.
DISAPPEARING ISLANDS III: HEIMAY
VESTMANNAEYJAR, ICELAND 63.4377° N, 20.673° W
ALL THAT IS SOLID MELTS INTO AIR
In 1973 the eruption of Eldfell volcano gave rise to a mountain where a meadow once lay on the peaceful fishing island of Heimay. An overnight evauation of the Icelandic island of Heimay temporarily dislocated the entire town of 5000 to mainland Iceland, who watched from afar as in the ensuing months the town was slowly engulfed by ash and lava. A small rescue team remained on the island, fighting back the descending lava with seawater, closing down and later excavating the buried houses from ash.
Two-thirds of the original population have now returned to the island, resettled and rebuilt over the engulfed ruins of a few crushed houses still embedded in the lava. A red, barren mountain now stands where a meadow once was, its volcanic sands one of the closest composites we have on earth to martian dust.
With support from the Danish Arts Foundation, I undertook a three-week research trip to Iceland and met some of the evacuated families and members of the rescue team - some able to talk freely about the event, and others who could never look back.
THE ACT OF DRAWING AS EVENT
DRAWING AS ACTION
Aqua Fluxus investigates a poetic cartography of turbulance, chaos and fluidity through the act of drawing. The drawings develop non-physical, experiential mappings of places that are continuously reshaped by the interplay of extreme force and fluidity - of event, encounter and adaptation toward the unpredictable. The works explore active methods of capturing time and event through the act of drawing as a performance in itself.
How can we map a place that is more clearly defined by it's undergoing continuous change than by it's physical form? By configurations and relationships that change daily, that through traditional cartographical approaches would require constant drawing and redrawing? Can we instead record a place as a set of fluid actions, interactions and memories?
Through the Aqua Fluxus paintings, my artistic methodology works to develop an approach that enacts an abstraction of the forces and events that create a place to generate emotive cartographies. Allowing for chance, accident and interpretation, the drawing methods are seen as a set of ongoing experiments whereby the process is as crucial as the end result.
The Aqua Fluxus drawings are conceived as performances, whereby the relationship between paper and ink is subject to decreasing levels of control. The paintings are drawn through dropping ink with intention from a height varying from 1 to 3m, at speeds from 1 to 20m/s. Within the compression of space between the ink and the paper, unintention comes into play.
The thin vertical black line descends towards the great rectangular hole the paper cuts out of the grass below. The balanced moment of meeting between horizontal and vertical; between line, plane and horizon. The compression of the four-dimensional space the line takes up as it gains speed toward the paper, it's momentary dance captured upon a two-dimensional plane. Viewed from above, in the eyes of the painter the perspective compresses as the ink spot dances its way down. If the ink is dropped, the vertical dance and the time of it's journey is compressed as a single gestural mark that captures something of the entire movement. It's speed and impact is visible in the thickness and splatter of the stroke. If the ink is suspended, kept hold of at one end from above, only the last steps of the dance are recorded - the wind, gravity and it's own intention has more of an influence over the dance than myself. From my height, for much of the act of drawing I cannot quite tell which lines are still moving and which have become frozen upon the paper. As I paint, I am a puppeteer with increasingly less control over their puppets, a choreographer trying to direct against a booming wind with much louder voice than I.