“Drifter in residence’

An Oceanographic expedition by Kishan Munroe

ABOUT THE PROJECT

On a self-constructed raft, I plan to set adrift, alone, into the throes of the Atlantic Ocean. There I will remain resident aboard my creation engaged in an unorthodox artist research residency.

This vessel, the R/V Diaspora, is a 20ft raft constructed partially of repurposed and salvaged materials; some commonly associated with vessels crafted by ingenuitive seafaring migrants and refugees. Such makeshift crafts, as well as the iconic Kon-Tiki and Antiki rafts, space capsules, and Bahamian sloops, inspired the vessel’s design. The raft itself is a pluralistic metaphor: at once it speaks of the people of the African diaspora in the “New World” who have been seemingly drifting throughout the Atlantic for centuries. Moreover, it is the embodiment of my artistic idea – the concepts and theories conceived within me; designed to sustain my livelihood… and most importantly my life.

Over the past three years I have invested countless hours devoted to the engineering and construction of the vessel as well as training in navigation and survival techniques. The question now is, “How well does my ‘idea’ float?”

This ‘introspective/retrospective’ pilgrimage marks a ten-year milestone in my professional artistic journey, actively engaged in extensive anthropological investigations through cultural immersion. In this phase I literally plunge into the foreign world of the ocean, seeking to tap into the narratives, realities and histories of man’s precarious relationship with the sea and his never-ending quest for ‘home’.

This expedition – a research residency without fixed geographical location, explores universal themes of placelessness, migration, climate change, sustainability and survival. It draws attention to the rich history of this region and the plight of those who inhabit it. It is a departure from traditional media expressions, as I probe further into the experiential elements of my practice. Multimedia documentation of my experiences and my communication via social media adds to this journey an intimate performance component. Water, as a universal vehicle for exchange and communication, is examined in-depth. Furthermore, this maritime expedition explores the employment of radio telecommunications and satellite technology as means of communication and survival.

Hurricane Dorian, a category 5 mega-storm and the strongest Atlantic hurricane to ever make landfall in recorded history decimated two of the northernmost islands of The Bahamas. It left our nation traumatized and literally broken. For weeks The Bahamas was in the international spotlight; another casualty of climate change. Most evident at this low point in our nation’s history was the need to improve education, raise awareness of the human and institutional capacity of climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning. These goals have always been a part of my investigative pursuits, however at this moment, such resolutions are indisputably critical to our existence in this region.