Harvest From Atlantis

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2019 video and performative intervention work by Tita Salina and Irwan Ahmett, made with the support of SAM fund for art and ecology.

Artist Statement:

Jakarta is a coastal city which benefits greatly from its access to the sea. Residents of Jakarta are heavily dependant on the coastline. Thirteen rivers flow from the mountains of south Java into Jakarta Bay, their mouths spread along the city’s 42 km coastline. This water brings with it nutrients from tropical rain, the basis for a rich coastal ecology. But pollution from unchecked industrial waste full of heavy metals mean that Jakarta Bay’s ecosystem is today in a dire state. .

In response to this issue we have worked with green mussel farmers who live in fishing communities scattered along the coast of Jakarta Bay. Like the bay, their ways of life have been disturbed by their proximity to Jakarta. Green mussels are a species endemic to the bay and are popular as an affordable source of protein, the cheapest meat available to Jakarta residents. The economy of green mussel production involves women and children, who process mussels prior to sale. However heavy metal pollution endangers the future cultivation and consumption of green mussels. Not only are fishermen and women’s livelihoods affected by pollution, but they also often live with the constant threat of eviction as Jakarta Bay becomes attractive to developers as a new frontier of development. Residents who challenge the impending enclosure of their land are criminalised, trumped up defamation charges laid against them in a corrupt legal system.

The title of this work derives from the urban legend that the mythical underwater city of Atlantis is in fact located in Jakarta Bay. This urban legend has become ironic as Jakarta is now itself slowly drowning due to a combination of land subsidence and rising sea levels. The green of the mussels recall the leaves of tropical forests that have been wiped out. We planted a tree on the ocean floor and patiently waited more than 6 months until the mussels were ready to harvest as a symbol of our hopes and fears for the future.

2019 video dan aksi performatif, karya Tita Salina dan Irwan Ahmett. Karya ini dibuat dengan dukungan dari SAM hibah dana untuk seni dan ekologis.

Deskripsi Karya:

Jakarta kota pesisir yang sarat sejarah, kaya strategis, sekaligus menyimpang banyak masalah lingkungan hidup, misalnya polusi logam berat, sampah dan rusaknya ekosistem. Padahal tingkat ketergantungan penduduk pesisir akan garis pantainya sangat tinggi, termasuk sebagai pintu berbagai komoditas dari dan ke kepulauan Nusantara dan seluruh pelosok.

 Untuk merespon persoalan ini kami bekerja sama dengan peternak kerang hijau yang masih hidup komunal serta melakukan budidaya secara tradisional. Ruang hidup mereka terganggu oleh ancaman penggusuran yang didorong privatisasi lahan. Usaha kerang hijau yang padat karya juga terancam oleh pencemaran logam berat, padahal itu adalah hewan endemik Teluk Jakarta yang juga menjadi alternatif sumber protein yang terjangkau.

Judul karya ini bertumpu pada mitos tentang kota Atlantis yang tenggelam diyakini terletak di Teluk Jakarta. Ini ironis karena Jakarta secara perlahan juga tenggelam akibat penurunan tanah dan peningkatan muka air laut. Warna hijau pada kerang mengingatkan kami pada dedaunan dari hutan-hutan tropis yang telah dibabat habis. Bersama-sama kami sudah menanam pohon di dasar laut dan bersabar menunggu selama lebih dari 6 bulan hingga kerang siap untuk dipanen sebagai simbol harapan sekaligus kekhawatiran mengenai masa depan.