Island Ark by Marcos Lutyens is a project that seeks to remediate the loss of habitability due to sea level rise, which is happening not just in Venice, but also to entire island nations across the world, such as the Republic of Maldives, Kiribati and Tuvalu. Island Ark proposes elevated island structures to take the place of atolls and islands as they become partially or completely lost under the waves.
The envisioned structures are decommissioned oilrig platforms, as a ‘swords to ploughshares’ gesture, in which the very structures that have contributed to sea level rise are used to counter those effects. The idea of the Island Ark platform being an Inclusive Utopian Zone (I.U.Z.) extends from the notion that each island state is surrounded by a soon to be lost Exclusive Economic Zone, which is a 200 mile area around the islands that is reserved for fishing, power generation and mineral rights.
At the Alberta Pane Gallery, Marcos Lutyens sketches out possibilities of how this I.U.Z. would be configured. He envisions a fresh start in which a nation state community finds a means of relief from its sunken lands and splits its time on the platform between practices of consciousness, reconnection to the senses, creative social interactions and stewardship of the environment, with the goal of creating a harmonious relationship to self, community and surroundings.
Marcos Lutyens explains: “the Norwegian artist Bård Breivik once compared oil rigs to giant cathedrals of medieval times. Perhaps these massive structures could be rehabilitated not just for refuge against cyclones, to aid in desalination and for agricultural cultivation while island nations are sinking, or as place-holder platform-states once the islands have vanished, but more especially as sites to recondition and regenerate what it is to be human in these times”.
The Island Ark exhibition includes video, ceramic works, drawings, an audio induction, inductive portals and a maquette that could be used as a kit to help island nations decide which activities to include in their own platform. While visitors to the gallery are invited to imagine their own utopian scenarios, the platform could just as much be a metaphor of a new approach to living, as an actual physical intervention in the South Pacific. Marcos Lutyens is working with participants at the University of Southern California and Artropocene: iBiennale in Hawaii and in South Pacific Islands to help ideate what these activities could be.