Installation, Political / Social, Landscape, Video installation, 20x8x20cm
SeaWomen is a video and sound installation (30mins). It focuses on a vanishing community of female sea workers living on the North Pacific island of Jeju floating between S.Korea, Japan and China. The work depicts the community 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 day’s work in sound and film, SeaWomen creates a 12-speaker sound installation with a single-screen film. The work witnesses the women’s 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 women’s camps and against the changing weather and dramatic volcanic coastline of the island. It includes the seal-like vocal bursts of the old women’s 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 solidarity in the midst of contemporary industrialisation.
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