untitled, march 2007 ÂŠ dana lixenberg
The Last Days of Shishmaref
An inupiaq community swallowed by the sea - dana lixenberg PHotograPHY / jan Louter en melle van essen film
p h o t o g r a p h y © DANA LIXENBERG
As a result of global warming Shishmaref, a small island on the west coast of Alaska slightly south of the polar circle, inhabited by 600 Inupiaq, will crumble into the ocean in less then ten years time Fourteen houses have been moved to safer ground already, another six are jeopardized by the violent waves of winter storms. The island and its inhabitants seem set to become the first clear victims of global warming and inadequate international environmental awareness. A majority of the Inupiaq population have voted to move to a new location on the Alaska mainland across the bay, where they hope to preserve their traditional way of life as much as possible. Debates held during the past few years about where to relocate, revealed tensions between the older generations and adolescents. The youth are bored with five bingo evenings a week and the modest sports hall as the only entertainment facility available. The grown-ups - and especially the women - fear the influence of the city and the accompanying confron-
tation with alcohol and drugs, still totally absent on Shishmaref, responsible for the collapse of so many small communities in this region and others. The Last Days of Shishmaref is a project employing diverse media which supplement and enhance one another: a website, a documentary film, a book, a touring exhibition and an educational project for secondary schools, accompanied by a DVD. By constructing a framework in which these various elements can continue to stand next to one another for the duration of the project, the project can become more than just a record of a given moment in time, interrogating both the notion of (social) identity in relation to location and the threat of global climate change. The countless news crews that visited the island over the past years paid no attention to the society as such. Almost all of them reported from the island in front of the house that hangs precariously over the eroding coastline. The climate message
was the main focus of their stories. To filmmaker Jan Louter and photographer Dana Lixenberg, in contrast, the climate was a backdrop for the histories of people, of a community, of a life in all its paradoxical intricacies. Images of the hunt and of immense seascapes and snow-covered landscapes interact with intimate portraits and scenes from cluttered interiors. The impression it leaves yields more questions than answers: questions about identity, dignity, transience and mortality. What does it mean for an individual, for a culture to be forced to leave the land where their forefathers were born?
site, participating in a form of civil journalism that will put aspects of their own stories online.
In the exhibition Dana Lixenbergs photographs are presented alongside a spatial montage of film scenes from Jan louters film, shot by cameraman Melle van Essen. The current situation of the island will be featured as projected newsfeed and the accessibility of the website. The website containing background information on the island and on climate issues, also shows historic film- and photography material. Youngsters from Shishmaref are trained to contribute to the
DANA LIXENBERG (Amsterdam, 1964) lives and works in New York and Amsterdam. Previous independent photo projects include Jeffersonville, Indiana (1997-2005) and Imperial Courts (19932009). Her work has been exhibited internationally and has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Newsweek, Vibe (VS), The Telegraph Magazine (UK) and Vrij Nederland (NL), among other publications.
Combining a variety of contemporary and historical materials and the input of professionals as well as the community, the project will appeal to both readers with an interest in anthropology and photography as well as those concerned with climate change. JAN LOUTER (b. 1954) is the creator and director of many independent documentaries. He portrayed many writers and artists (e.g. John Fante, Jean Rhys) but is equally interested in social issues. Louter often works with cameraman Melle van Essen, known for his exceptional photography.
miroir film - Paradox - Llink
The Last Days of Shishmaref e x h i b i t i o n : 56 framed prints (19 prints: 80x100 / 37 prints: 50x60) and filmbased installation projected on 5 to 9 screens (size: 160x285 cm), 9 LCD monitors with filmexcerpts, 6 website computers, 3 projections (animated maps, timeline, realtime climate related newsfeed) S i z e : 3 0 0 - 9 0 0 m 2 (installation can be customized) E x h i b i t i o n f e e : € 15.000 ,includes 15 beamers sponsored by Epson (not including other equipment) p u b l i c at i o n : BOOK 208 pages FC. € 35,- episode publishers / Paradox ISBN 9789059731103 we b s i t e : w w w. t hel ast daysof shi shmaref . net PARADOX c r e a t e s p r o j e c t s i n p h o t o g r a p h y, v i d e o a n d m e d i a r e l a t e d a r t s . Th e interaction between social, economic a n d te c h n o lo g ic a l c h a n g e is c e n tra l to m o s t th e m a tic a n d m o n o g ra p h ic p ro je c ts d e v e lo p e d . PARADOX ’ a c tiv itie s in c lu d e travelling exhibitions, film production, b o o k a n d e le c tro n ic p u b lis h in g a n d organising workshops and symposiums. F o r fu rth e r in fo : w w w.p a ra d o x .n l
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