“The Sun and the Ocean (Wharf)”: An Ecological Elegy Reverberating Around the World

The exhibition is a boundary between the fragility of human beings and the earth
The performance venue of “The Sun and the Sea (Dock)” is in the Venetian Church of the Sanctuary in the Naval Pier, adjacent to the Armory Exhibition Hall. It is a highly performing work in the 58th Venice Biennale. The three artists turned the exhibition site into a theater-like man-made beach. The actors took a relaxing vacation on the beach, while the audience stood on a high altitude, crossing the railings to watch this doomsday fable.

On a large man-made beach, men, women and children wore swimsuits and enjoyed sunbathing at the seaside under the shining of artificial light. There were colorful blankets scattered on the beach, people lying on it casually, and old white-haired people were playing. A word game, a young woman was bored with her mobile phone, two children frolicking next to the swimming ring, and a man walking the dog leisurely… However, the leisure and comfort did not last long, and the “coastal tourists” lying in the sun began to sing their own songs. Stories, the lives, anxiety, contemplation and fear of different people are also chanted: they worry about uneven application of sunscreen, worry about how to deal with work after vacation during vacation, and complain about tourists who take pets for not cleaning up their feces… But in the end, after these daily and trivial issues, they all point to environmental and climate issues. These people lying on the beach, while basking in the sun leisurely, talked eloquently about their concerns about climate change, such as rising sea levels and abnormally no snow during Christmas… Until the end, the performance was It ended naturally like the sunscreen that a woman applied hard on the beach but still melted away.

“We have drawn a line between the fragility of human beings and the earth.” This is the artist’s confession and the direction of the exhibition. Those real flesh on the artificial beach, lying on their backs or lying down, give people a sense of confusion that is overwhelming and mixed with real and fake. In this performance, the sun is fake and the beach is fake, but people seem to be on the beach for a day and do nothing on this day. Although they keep saying that they are worried about the world’s extinction, they sunbathe indifferently…

While watching the illusion of the beach through the railings, when faced with climate and ecological issues, how could it not be the same as these performers, seemingly concerned, but appeased. If we really care about the precarious climate and ecology, how can we lie comfortably on the beach and enjoy the sun, or watch a performance calmly?

Therefore, this is the most real and most casual destruction of humanity by ecology: it allows you to leave a chicken feather on the rich and false man-made beach, and gives you irreparable harm in your idleness. Perhaps, the last day of the earth is as ordinary as playing on the beach; the real way of ending the world is not a loud bang, but the high-hanging concern of human beings for the world, which is not cared about by human nature. Very fatal indifference, idleness and laziness.

The climate regime becomes a hidden check
It is not difficult to see from the exhibition “The Sun and the Ocean (Wharf)” that under the surface of a leisurely and comfortable seaside holiday, there is a huge ecological crisis. Humans seem to be in control of the overall situation and seem to know everything, but in fact they have long been involved in an irreversible ecological torrent. It seems that we are controlling the ecology, but in fact, we are the objects that are manipulated by the ecology.

The ecological crisis is not just a unilateral issue brought to us by the environment. In essence, climate is also a kind of politics. It was born from the collision of modern systems and nature, and rebuilt the global chessboard that determines the destiny of mankind. The support behind it is the “climate regime.” Today’s Gaia (the mother of the gods in ancient Greek mythology, or the mother of the earth) is no longer what Lovelock said, “a dynamic system composed of all living things and their environment, capable of regulating the earth’s own climate and “Chemical state”, Gaia is no longer a single organism in the old conceptual framework of the past, no longer a huge thermostat, and no longer the goddess of the earth preached in mythology.

French philosopher Bruno Latour believes that “Gaia is the most secular exploration of the political theory of the earth, because she is the only entity that can mobilize science, politics, and theology in a new way.” This is telling us that the relationship between human beings and the earth’s ecology is extremely close. Science, politics, facts, and values ​​have long been inseparable. The current nature is Gaia, and it is unconquerable.

Because of this, human beings need to redraw the map of the territory on which they live in front of Gaia. In this process, the climate regime has become a new and hidden restraint. In the context of the Anthropocene, all humans and non-humans affected by Gaia need to gather together, be broken up, and reassembled to face this diverse world together. As Latour said, “The term Anthropocene announces that there is a Mobius ring between Gaia and humans: you can never distinguish between the positive and the negative, whether you are inside or outside, whether you are a human or Non-human”.

So, what is the Anthropocene? In this regard, the French philosophers Bernard Stiegler, Michel Scheher, etc. have all given different time points about the Anthropocene, but without exception, they all believe that the Anthropocene is closely related to the Industrial Revolution. It coincides with the views put forward by the Dutch chemist Paul Kruzen and the American biologist Eugene Stormer in 2000. The so-called Anthropocene means that human beings have become the main force of geological formation and have become a decisive factor affecting the ecology of the earth and their own survival. The ecological risks caused by human activities are endless. Among them, climate change is the primary issue, and climate disasters are enough to endanger the civilization that humans and all other life on the planet produce together. This shows that in the context of the Anthropocene, under the implicit control of the climate regime, no one can be alone.