A documentary on the making of the exhibition in Venice 2013 by VICE, Italy.
The Maldives Exodus Caravan Show is curated by artist Søren Dahlgaard with deputy curators Elena Gilbert & Microclima, first shown at the Official Collateral Event of the 55th Venice Biennale with Museum of Everything at Serra dei Giardini, 2013.
Featuring internationally well-known artists such as Bik Van der Pol, Antti Laitinen, Christian Falsnaes, SUPERFLEX, Rirkrit Tiravanija and 10 artists from Maldives, The Maldives Exodus Caravan Show is a mobile touring exhibition that acts to promote environmental and political awareness. Educational and aesthetically inventive, the exhibition consists primarily of non-physical artworks such as performance, video, games & music.
Dahlgaard developed the project in response to the environmental and political plight of the Maldives. As a chain of low-lying atolls the Maldives, like many other island nations, are under grave threat from rising sea levels due to climate change. Politically, the Maldives have also struggled for many years under dictatorship until a brief period of democracy with the presidency of Mohamed Nasheed from 2008 – 2012. In 2012, members of the former regime forced Nasheed to resign at gunpoint. Since then many art organisations have been forced to close and there are reports of creative practitioners being abused and suppressed. Recognizing the necessity to react against the return to dictatorship, Dahlgaard spilt from the Maldives National Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (that he initiated with climate activist and former President Nasheed in 2010) and established The Maldives Exodus Caravan Show. As a politically independent and mobile project, The Maldives Exodus Caravan Show represents movement in all aspects – physical and mental, political and environmental. Dahlgaard, a previous long term resident of the Maldives, explains:
“Exodus refers to the majority of the Maldivian population that wishes to escape the unprecedented events in the Maldives of unbelievable acts of brutality, polarized discourse, and repression of human rights. Exodus also refers to the climate change issue in the Maldives, which can lead to the entire Maldivian population becoming climate refugees due to the country’s status as the first country to be underwater due to global warming.”
VICE documentary on the making of the exhibition in Venice – The Ideological Guide by e-flux, The Independent UK, ArtAsiaPacific Almanac issues 2014, 2015 & 2016 Hong Kong, Monopol Germany, Aljazeera, uncube magazine, Weekend Avisen newspaper Denmark on the politics behind, National Radio Denmark, National Radio New Zealand, KILL SCREEN NYC, The New Zealand Herald, Artnews New Zealand, Circuit Radio Interview, EyeContact review & ClockTower Radio interview New York, Kunsten.nu article, Denmark.
TOUR of The Maldives Exodus Caravan Show:
1. June – 25. November 2013 Venice Biennale, Italy.
8. March – 13. July 2014 Te Tuhi Arts Centre, Auckland, New Zealand.
21. September – 5. October 2014 Silent Barn Art Center, New York.
27. September 2014 – 15. March 2015 CCA Andratx Mallorca, Spain.
20. April – 17. May 2015 ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE2015 Melbourne, Australia.
27. June – 26. July 2015 Laznia Art Center Gdansk, Poland.
September 2017 – January 2018 Museum Het Domein, Holland.
The Island President (recorded 2009-2011) during the time of Nasheeds democratic Presidency in Maldives. This award winning documentary film by Jon Shenk is part of the exhibition.
Climate Change & The Struggle with Democracy in ‘Paradise’.
By Mr. Nasheed climate activist & first democratic President of Maldives 2008-2012.
The Maldives Exodus Caravan Show in Venice is an important statement about the situation in Maldives right now – both in relation to the climate change issue and particularly in regards to the political situation. When Søren Dahlgaard in 2010 presented to me the idea of bringing these issues to Venice in the context of an art exhibition I welcomed the initiative.
The fight against climate change is a fight for human rights. It’s a fight for the right to exist in a healthy environment and to have the freedom that goes along with that. The climate debate is about that, and so is the fight for democracy.
I feel that now climate issues and human rights are equally important. You have to save the planet as much as save the people, and democracy can be built on that foundation. I would hope that Egyptians, or all the other democracy movements in the Middle East, would find climate change as a track that they have to address. They cannot come into government without understanding climate issues, and what is happening to the environment around them.
There is no Plan B; because there is no Planet B
Text about the video: Nasheed speaks via video link from Maldives at the opening of The Maldives Exodus Caravan Show at Silent Barn Art Centre Brooklyn, New York, September 2014. He speaks in particular about the importance of freedom of expression, press and the abduction of journalist Rilwan in August 2014. Rilwan is still missing, his abduction believed ordered from the government..
At the moment, every country arrives at climate negotiations seeking to keep their own emissions as high as possible. This is the logic of the madhouse, a recipe for collective suicide. We don’t want a global suicide pact. We want a global survival pact.
We have to deal with the current political situation before we can deal with the climate challenge. The two are closely related.
The problems we are facing in the Maldives are a warning for other Muslim nations undergoing democratic reform. At times, dealing with the corrupt system of patronage the former regime left behind can feel like wrestling with a Hydra: when you remove one head, two more grow back. With patience and determination, the beast can be slain. But let the Maldives be a lesson for aspiring democrats everywhere: the dictator can be removed in a day, but it can take years to stamp out the lingering remnants of his dictatorship.
We do everything that we do for our children. Why are you working? Why am I working? We would not have any policies for ourselves, but we should have policies for our children.
The Maldives Exodus Caravan Show in Venice will host a much-needed continued platform for discussions and debate on these issues and I hope I will be able to come to Venice and participate in the program.
Inflating the island at CCA Andratx Mallorca Spain, 2014.
Essay on The Maldives Exodus Caravan Show by James Oliver in the book ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE published by Melbourne University Press, 2016.