Komij Mour Ijin / Our Life is Here

Marshall Islands Expedition, August 2023

The Kõmij Mour Ijin expedition aims to bring worlds together to tell a compelling story that will capture the public’s imagination. We voyage to learn and appreciate: to remember, to reimagine, to reinvent. We voyage to reaffirm our home right here and now on Earth and to ensure that all of us can not only survive but also thrive.

The Kõmij Mour Ijin Marshall Island expedition will take place in August 2023 for 12 days. Cyclically sailing 450 nautical miles of Pacific Ocean, its voyagers will experience island cultural knowledge and traditional maritime navigational skills, honour the precious and ancestral irradiated atolls of Bikini and Rongelap, visit the people of pristine rural Wotho atoll, connect with densely urban Ebye Island on Kwajalein Atoll, and glide through the world’s largest shark sanctuary, four times the size of California. 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 them on the journey will be eight Marshallese youth artists aged 18-25, sailing aboard a separate research vessel M/V Surveyor from Majuro Atoll. Together their mission will be 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 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. 

All these colonial monsters came from afar, and Marshallese resilience and creativity in tackling them head-on serves as an inspiring example to the global community that created— and still struggles to contain— these same demons. Marshall Islanders have survived and thrived for millennia: their wisdom gleaned from the horrors of the 20th century, and their ongoing tenacity in the 21st, has much to teach the rest of the world about true commitment to land and our shared home on planet Earth. 

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.

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