2023 Expedition

The 30 strong powerful team sailed to the heart of the Anthropocene, offering first-hand experience of climate change displacement and massive nuclear destruction in The Marshall Islands

12 Aug–21 Aug 2023
The Republic of Marshall Islands
Kõmij- Mour Ijin / Our Life Is Here

The Our Life Is Here expedition team consisted of 17 International artists and scientists, 7 Marshallese youth artists, 1 Bikinian Boat builder, 3 Film makers, 1 Marshallese cultural elder and 1 Bikinian Boat builder/ Cultural Elder. The 30 strong powerful team sailed to the heart of the Anthropocene, offering first-hand experience of climate change displacement and massive nuclear destruction.

As the expedition is finished, the powerful team of creatives now have the task of narrating this unique story of challenge and resilience.

The Marshallese resilience, creativity and positivity serves as an inspiring example to our global community.

The Kõmij-Mour-Ijin/ Our Life Is here Marshall Islands expedition took place in August 2023 aboard the research Vessel M/V Pacific Master for 12 days. Cyclically sailing 450 nautical miles of Pacific Ocean, its voyagers experienced island cultural knowledge and traditional maritime navigational skills, honoured the precious and ancestral irradiated atolls of Bikini and Rongelap, visited the people of pristine rural Wotho atoll, connected with densely urban Ebeye Island on Kwajalein Atoll. Fifteen years of ocean expeditions have given Cape Farewell experiential knowledge of how a group of diverse and creative people can produce work both individually and collectively, creating a uniquely resonant cultural voice larger than any one of its separate makers.

Joining the journey, were six Marshallese youth artists, aged 18-25, sailing aboard an additional research vessel, the M/V Surveyor from Majuro Atoll. Together the team’s mission was to explore the contemporary resilience of Marshallese culture, the dark and continuing legacy of the American atmospheric nuclear testing program that brutally violated it amidst the Cold War, and the profound national vulnerability of the Atolls to sea level rise caused by the global climate crisis. The Marshalls, with an average height of 6 feet above sea level, are located in the centre of the ocean amidst water that is rising at an accelerating rate. Having directly endured the devastating fighting of Japanese and Americans during the Pacific War, followed by the Armageddon of over a decade of U.S. nuclear testing, the Marshallese now confront the possibility of their home becoming uninhabitable within a single lifetime. 

Using material gathered during the expedition as well as creative work and science honed after, Cape Farewell will produce a major touring museum exhibition and catalogue, debuting in 2025. The exhibition and book will communicate to a global audience just how relevant the Marshallese story of seventy thousand isolated people and their violated coral atolls is to the larger planet.

In addition to the exhibition and book, expedition participants will later narrate a documentary film made from trip material, amplifying the message that a sustainable human existence is possible if we examine the past carefully, truly engage with present challenges, and consciously dream a different future. Great work is being done by Western scientists, artists and conservationists. Great work is being done by the people of the Marshall Islands and larger Oceania. 

Kõmij Mour Ijin brings them together in deep resonance.

  • Artist and Cape Farewell Founder David Buckland
  • Photographer and Book Maker Michael Light
  • Poet, Performer and Educator Kathy Jetñil Kijiner
  • Professor, Researcher and Artist Dr Greg Dvorak
  • Multi-disciplinary Artist Lisa Reihana
  • Artist Meghann Riepenhoff
  • Marine Scientist
  • Bikinian cultural elder and Master Navigator Alson Kelen
  • Artist, Photographer and Film Maker Brock Scott
  • Daguerreotype Image Maker Takashi Arai
  • Writer and Founder/ Director of the Nevada Museum of Art William L. Fox
  • Photographer Mark Klett
  • Artist Michael Pinsky
  • Experimental Vocalist and Performer Carmina Escobar
  • Artist Solomon Enos
  • Film Maker Victoria K. Warren
  • Musician and Sound Artist James Pinker
  • Poet and Artist Himali Singh Soin
  • Scientist Andrew Mcinnes
  • Artist Tania Kovats

  • Film maker Jordan Dozzi-Perry
  • Cultural Elder and Waver Susan Jieta
  • Jo Jikum Programme Manager Konea P. Ishumura
  • National Climate Youth Representative Jobod Silk
  • Tattoo Artist Patsy Glad
  • Artist and Poet Caesar Jewan Jamore
  • Poet and Climate Advocate Nenol Kaminaga
  • Advocate and Graphic Design Student Victoria Jamore
  • Artist Geovannie Johnson
  • Bikini Boat Builder Clancy Takia

Situated at the centre of the Earth’s largest ocean and surrounded by vast expanses of water, the 29 coral atolls of the Marshall Islands have been called home for more than three thousand years, by canoe-voyaging people who could navigate solely by sensing the rhythms of waves with their bodies and observing the positions of the stars. Yet, due to rising sea levels and the lasting legacy of U.S. nuclear testing, that precious 3000 year old pacific culture can now rightly be called the most existentially-threatened place on the planet.

Expedition Recap Film by Takashi Arai

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