Besides evolutionary/biological and historical connections I have with the sea I do see the sea as a primary element of this planet of ours. Earth’s surface is covered by 71% of water, we are made up of roughly 60% water, and carbon life as we know it requires liquid water to occur. From a human perspective, you can’t get more primary than that. Oceans also connect the separate continents, lands and nations. The rabid capitalistic democratic order that currently frames most human activity on earth today uses the Oceans as a means of transporting stuff from A to B. From grower to buyer or from raw material to finished product. Business as usual on a global level.
Massive cargo ships perform this operation. In fact, about 15,000 ships continually sail around the seas transporting everything from tractors to plastic scissors. I was on one such ship. The CMA CGM ROSSINI a 13 year old ship, 278 metres in length which sails under a French flag and was transporting 4450 cargo containers from Australia to S. E Asia.
It is the job of 1.3 million sailors across the planet to help move all these boxes of stuff about. This industry alongside other transport modes, communication via digital technology and the international financial world are elements that enable globalisation to continue and expand in such a rapid manner. Globalisation refers to the crystallisation or melding of the entire world into a single place. A unification of human activity if you like. Hopefully, good, fair and friendly activity rather than evil, greedy and stupid activity. We can only hope!
The shipping world is hard core in its capitalist methods as it operates under extreme weather conditions in an unstable, fickle world market that is based on an illogical exponential growth model. The unusual FOC or Flags Of Convenience system used by shipping companies to source cheap labor is an example of this. Finding ships made in Romania, owned by American companies, with European officers and Filipino crews which are register in land-locked countries like Bolivia or Mongolia is very odd indeed. I don’t wish to delve into too much geopolitics as I am out of my league being a simple trans-national visual artist who was luckily given the opportunity to observe this incredible industry from cabin 705 on Deck F.
This global maritime transport industry is partly hidden behind seemingly chaotic but highly controlled ports and it is also difficult to observe what happens across the enormous expanses of our dark oceans and blue seas. What I do know is that a great deal happens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For instance; each year approx.120,000,000,000,000 cargo containers are moved across international waters where the law is as wobbly as the seas upon which all these cargo ships float.
However complicated the industry is it certainly is fascinating and this trip did enable me to return to the sea to make art as I traveled slowly from one continent to another. I thank the officers and crew of the ROSSINI for letting myself and Malcolm experience such a world.
Big thanks also to the Australia Council for the opportunity to explore and work on that…
“large blue wobbly thing where the mermaids live”.
UNCLEAR CARGO (BOX OF FUSTY LUGGERS) WORK ON PAPER. 2018