Celeste Prize

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SeaWomen

Installation, Political / Social, Video installation, 20x8x20cm, 2012

SeaWomen is a video and sound installation. It focuses on a vanishing community of female sea workers living on the North Pa-
cific island of Jeju floating between S.Korea, Japan and China. The work depicts the commu-
nity of working women called haenyeo, now between 60 and 85 years old, who dive to great
depths with no oxygen supply to catch sea-food, collect seaweed and find pearls. Up until the
1970s, this ancient female profession, now on the verge of disappearance, was a dominant
economic force on the island establishing a matriarchal society contrary to male-dominated
Korean culture.

Observing a dayís work in sound and film, SeaWomen witnesses the womenís insistence on
sustainable eco-feminist practices operating outside the trend of industrialization, the reversal
of traditional gender-roles, their deep sense of community, their collective economics, sense
of democracy and professional identity, fun and purpose in later age. The installation portrays
activities taking place in the sea, at the womenís camps and against the changing weather and
dramatic volcanic coastline of the island. It includes the seal-like vocal bursts of the old wom-
enís traditional breathing technique (a professional skill transmitted from mother to daughter);
the hubbub of their work-camps and communal showers, their joyous rowing work-song and
upheaval of debates about territory, pay and unionization.

SeaWomen reflects on labour and gender, on the effects of modernisation and the legacy of a
coastal community economically dependent on the sea. It shows the precariousness of their
work and fragile state of their community, and finds hope in their feisty DIY attitude and soli-
darity in the midst of an contemporary industrialisation.

Selection 2012

Committee

Nigel Prince Michael Connor Jack Persekian Lydia Pribisova
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Comments (1)

Mikhail Karikis
1 year ago
This work is a 30-min-long installation with a 12-speaker sound component and a single-screen video. The vimeo link provided is a short clip depicting various moments of the work, without being faithful to the original edit.
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Mikhail Karikis
Artist
London, United Kingdom - 1975
Joined 1 year ago, visits 184

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