Raf voor Radius, Delft

voices : Raf Custers

On July 30, Raf participated in a panel discussion on Hydrocommons and Hydrocitizenship, at Radius, Delft. These are notes of preparation. One of the ideas : these are at once apocalyptic and exciting because liberative times.

  • RCnote220730 Hydrocommons_Radius
  • Voices: Marlies Augustijn, Sissel Marie Tonn, Ronald Boer en Rosanne Wijk van Onkruidenier, Sergi Rusca 3 beelden : IMAGE-1 Laminaria digitata IMAGE-2 Bring it back IMAGE-3 Water owns itself

  • Thank you for the invitation one half of a couple, working on deep-sea mining our final work will be a transmedia installation but preparing it through a tour in seven stages, called A Seat for the Sea a research-based arts projects with a series of approaches and to cite just one : it happens that we get macro-learnings out of micro-situations one example : sea weed

  • Sea weed this week we were again in Finisterre, Bretagne, France before the ocean coast : one of the largest sea weed fields of Europe these sea weeds have been a source of livelihood for centuries farmerscollected them as fuel, to cook and warm, or as fertilizer for their fields later on they started to burn them and sell them to factories that produced iodium but today sea weed in Finisterre are the raw material for the cosmetics industry or to produce food this activity has scaled up it i seasonal, from May to September - in Winter, the fishermen hide for the storms and go after shells, coquilles Saint Jacques Lanildut : 35.000 tonnes of sea-weed are brought in every year on an average day you'll see the ships arrive and onload their cargo onto trucks and it is a constant coming and going of these trucks the fishermen get as much weed out of the sea as they can they use a scoubidou : an hydraulic screw that turns the weed into a spaghetti and pulls them up the industry is regulated fishermen can make 1 exit per day, on week days they get yearly blocks to extract the weed from in theory this regulation should guarantee what is called a sustainable extraction of sea weeds but fishermen very often are on the edge of what is allowed and what is not THIS IMAGE shows the foot of a LAMINARIA DIGITATA, a smaller species, that can be up to 2-3 meters long • now look at this structure • it is several weeds tightly entangled • they are anchored in or onto rocks • and together, collectively they resist the enormous forces at work in the coastal area

• and therefore real underwater forests of these weeds exist before the coasts of Finisterre

  1. now what to think of hydrocommons ? and : how to achieve something in the planetary context that we know today ? first : what are commons ? commons are 3 elements : people / a resource / and rules the resource can be an irrigation system to water crops or in the immaterial realm, an open source tool like wikipedia throughout history, humankind has always put aside resources for collective use but commons have been under attack for centuries they have been largely privatized on a global level, we now know 4 GLOBAL COMMONS : Antarctica / the Atmosphere / Outer space / and the High Seas these 4 are defined as Common Heritage of Mankind : in theory they cannot be owned by private parties for private purposes but as with Land, the Global Commons are subject of Enclosure a permanent agression against th Global Commons is going on - see what is happening with commercial flights into space during negociations in the 1970-ies and 1980ies Western powers opposed the bloc of non-aligned countries and China, to soften the rules for the Global Commons of the sea and the final Convention of 1994 allowed for the extraction of natural resources of the deep sea, but, in theory, accompanied by a system where benefits would be share equally by all but how is theory translated into practice ? look at the Clarion Clipperton Zone as vast as the US from East to West divided into License Areas it now looks like the Map of Africa after the Berlin Conference where colonial powers drew straight borders to lay hands on otherman's land today only exploration is allowed in te CCZ but new RULES are being written as we talk and it is expected that next year, after 7 years of talks, commercial EXPLOITATION will be allowed to take off among the first in line to start mining in the deep sea are dredging companies and shipbuilders from the Low Lands : i cite Boskalis, DEME and AllSeas of Rotterdam

  2. A Seat for the Sea remarkable : the main actor of this so-called Blue Economy is never asked for its opinion this main actor is the Sea our purpose : find out if the sea has a voice ? and find ways to make this voice sound louder... • we meet groups of people • last month : activist, Lisbon > a.o. from the Pacific, New Zealand, Tuvalu, Palau, Vanuatu, and Europe • next week : artists, in Ostend • this Autumn : inhabitants of the Cook Islands • next year : scientists we see that industry takes on dazzling disguises it pretends that is absolutely necessary to extracts nodules from the deep sea IMAGE-2 BRING IT BACK what are nodules ? small rocks that contain high amounts of metals and on the seabed in the CCZ there's millions of them now : a movement to prevent deep-sea mining URGENTLY asks for a moratorium : no DSM as long as the impact of DSM is not fully understood this movement is growing : resolutions in favour have been voted in the EP, it started with environmental organisations, but it is being joined by countries and recently by Chile and Costa Rica and by powerful transnational corporations like BMW, Samsung and Google... with A Seat for the Sea, we are considering other tactics look at this image it proposes to bring back all the nodules that have been collected so far there's a parallel here with the restitution of artefacts that have been grabbed by colonial powers from the parts of the world they colonized and looted another tactic is rooted in ancient ways to resist unwanted intruders and oppressors while researching, we make we organized for example a 3 week workshop there we made a drawing, 6 by 12 meters, or halve the size of the original machine that it represented and with all the people who worked for 3 months to make this drawing, we brought it to a fountain at a square in Brussels where we lifted the drawing into the water and as it was drawn on soluble fabric, the drawing dissolved within seconds in the water this could mean a. the deep-sea mining industry operates out of view, or b. we drown this machinery to make it disappear

  3. hydrofeminism from stage to stage we discover we also discovered that lots of work are being done by feminists on ecology for example : by thinkers like Isabelle Stengers, Vinciane Despret, Anna Tsing, Donna Haraway... on the rights of nature, there's for example Radha D'Souza RIGHTS are never given rights must be fought for to obtain them from power this is a lesson that we learn from human social history rooted in native world visions as for example the one example : in Lisbon we had several discussions with Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, MP for the Maori Party ; she has been involved in struggles for many years against the extraction of mineral sands, she and her movement prevented this mining in New Zealands coastal ares from taking place, but time and time again she has to go back to court, to fight new claims from the mineral sands mining companies, because rights are never definitively obtained yet a positive example comes from Tuvalu, an island state in the Pacific Ocean and with the Maldives the country that is most threatened by sea level rise a former government had signed a contract for deep-sea mining, but this year the new government abolished the contract with the argument that it is of no use to destroy the seabed to protect the people on land on water matters, it is often non-Western feminist voices who raise the most pertinent and most necessary remarks and so i come to the hydrocommons

  4. scary but exciting these are most disturbing times •• these are probably the SCARIEST times of human history the Apocalyptic side of this Epoque is that soon many things that we take for granted will cease to exist and disappear •• but these are also extremely exciting times because certainties that governed our societies for centuries are falling apart nothing is under control and so many liberative movements are going on i think of the queer movement and #metoo i also think of hydrofeminism and of Rights of Nature i think of de-colonisation not only statues but whole fortresses of colonial power are being déboulonnés many of these liberative moments are confusing we do not know where we are going TOEGEVOEGD voor ons vreemde noties komen te voorschijn, we kunnen ze niet plaatsen, we hebben er geen eigen vertaling voor, terwijl we ze toch zouden moeten begrijpen ¿ en, vraagt D'Souza zich af, ons eigen maken ? Radha D'Souza, Listening to the Elders at the Keepers of Water Gathering in : Downstream, p.197-206 D'Souza heeft bijeenkomst van Keepers of Water bijgewoond in Canada daar spraken tal van Elders, vanuit hun idioom en conceptueel kader ..."It seems to me that our legal resource kit does not have the conceptual tools to articulate what the Elders were saying. They were syaing, "we are guardians of water, land, etc." Somewhere along the way, as we move away from the communities tied to land, forests, and water, (to offices of governments, politicians, policy-makers, experts and scholars, "guardianship" translates as "stakeholders" - the word slips into our conceptual vocabulary quietly, unnoticed, without anyone realizing that the ground has shifted under our feet). confusing yes, how to understand Rights of Nature ? how to relate to nature endowew with rights ? and how to relate to the Global Commons ? this is not clear at all but it will become clearer, if and when we engage in Embodiment [Symbiosis ? Co-Existence with nature) finally I refer to another hydro-feminist, Lee Maracle (passed away last year in November), Sto:Lo Nation Maracle complicates the notion of the High Seas as being Common Heritage of Mankind because, as you listen to her, you come to understand that this notion is (maybe) another anthropo-centric artefact here's what Maracle write, in Downstream, p.33-38 ... we do not own the water, water owns itself ... IMAGE-3 video this turns our concept of ocean commons upside down which is difficult and confusing

yet, we cannot run away from this difficulty, we have to deal with it