The Ocean Decade Conversations is back with an inspirational interview with Anne-Marie Melster, the leader of ARTPORT_WE ARE OCEAN – one of the first Ocean Decade Actions to be officially endorsed! ARTPORT_WE ARE OCEAN is a transdisciplinary artistic project carried out worldwide to raise awareness and engage in dialogue about the environmental condition of the ocean and the role humans play in its current and future state.
Join us on this encouraging talk and get some insights on how we can all contribute to change humanity’s relationship with the ocean, and how through art and traditional knowledge-sharing we can reconnect ourselves with nature and build unique partnerships.
- Please tell us a little about yourself, your influences and how your connection to the ocean started.
My connection with the ocean has a long history. I grew up on the North Sea coast in Germany, with nature, the tides, the autumn and winter storms on the North Sea. My mom took us to the dyke every afternoon for a walk, in stormy fall, cold winter and mild summers. I learned swimming in the waves of the German Wadden Sea. Only much later did I realize that this will be my professional future, my vocation.
In 2004, in a conversation with the co-founder of ARTPORT_making waves Corinne Erni in New York, this became clearer to me. I was in a moment of professional change, and we sat together thinking about the mission and vision of what we wanted to do together in an art project. It quickly became clear that our common interest was not only art and culture, but also the preservation of nature. We wanted to link these two areas together and give art a different value, far beyond the visual, beyond exhibitions, art fairs and biennials.
The book “An Inconvenient Truth” (2006) by Al Gore gave another impulse – Perhaps a door opener for many back then, even if today it seems outdated a bit and also needs to be looked at in a critical way. But it was a momentum and an inspiration for me, because I understood that the issues of climate change and global warming were going to affect humanity a lot, and because it was a thematic area for us, where a lot of environmental and social issues that are influenced by humans, converged. The quality of the air, the health of the sea, the ocean, the preservation of forests, nutrition, the production of food and agriculture, transport and transport, CO2 emissions, the preservation of biodiversity and much more. With our projects we wanted to make a positive contribution to social change: through the arts, sciences and education to raise awareness of a previously neglected subject. As an organization, we were one of the few pioneers in the field at the time, because in 2005 (when we started talking about our idea) and in 2006 we mostly reaped incomprehension and damning comments from the art world. The United Nations experts were also very hesitant about the idea of cooperating with art, while the sciences were still quite isolated in their protected area.
In January 2006 we went public with ARTPORT_making waves and started with video projects on the topic of climate change (COOL STORIES FOR WHEN THE PLANET GETS HOT), which we then presented internationally. The first major assignment for an exhibition on “Women and Climate Change” came in 2009 from various UN organizations and governments for COP15, the UN Climate Change Conference, in Copenhagen in 2009. And this was followed by many more projects, stations and assignments. Meanwhile, ARTPORT_making waves has grown into an international non-governmental organization with non-profit associations in various countries, including Germany, and brings together a large number of partner organizations for each project, all of which contribute with a specific expertise to the success of the respective order.