Country of the Sea

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Country of the Sea

2009–2015

A book, Wharfage, which consists primarily of ship’s manifests and provides us with a set of images: a year‐long calendar of boat names and breakbulk goods going to and from ports in the Somali Region via “piracy,” in the year of what was called the global financial crisis. These boats, giant country crafts made of wood, grow bigger, take shape in “wombs” in the ground, and in the social and symbolic life of estuarine towns in the Gulf of Kutch.

Photographs of colonial maps and paintings that were taken on “digital loan” from British libraries and museums were part of a nostalgic and nationalist exhibition in Mandvi commemorating Gujarat’s maritime history, occluding recent decades of ship building and maritime labor in the town. The Annotated Gujarat and The Sea Exhibition re-photographs these images and reframes the exhibition in terms of this “missing present.”

The title piece Country of the Sea, a map made by a group of friends, puts the coasts of India, Pakistan, Iran, East Africa, and the Gulf states in dialog with each other. An image of the sea as its own country, with different types of frontier towns at its edges. These are elements from a multi-year project that formulates a counterpoint to several usual maritime narratives—the imperial “view from the boat,” contemporary metaphors of liquidity and flow, as well as more recent “distressed seas.” It evokes an inhabitation of the seascape by sea-people, across spatial extents that are crossed physically.

"Country of the Sea" by CAMP, part of the exhibition "Territories of Complicity" at transmediale 2018 face value

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