At the invitation of people in Kivalina, Anchorage-based artist and architect Michael Gerace invited fourteen international researchers and artists to visit Kivalina for a 10-day work camp last August. Re-Locate was co-produced by the Alaska Design Forum with initial funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and other partners. The camp launched the Re-Locate Project, a multidisciplinary group of partners working with the village to support a community-led and culturally specific relocation process.
Together with the city and tribal councils, the people of Kivalina, and representatives from related agencies, Re-Locate projects are making the social, political, and environmental issues related to relocation visible to global audiences; supporting community discussion and exchange; locating, connecting, and educating new relocation partners; creating spaces where people in Kivalina can share original media and ideas about local ways of life; and developing an infrastructure for managing local to global networks of support.
During the 10-day camp, Re-Locate Project members met with community delegates in government offices and private houses, in public spaces such as the school and native store, for walks and bonfires at the beach, and over shared dances and boat-trips upriver. The Re-Locate project launched KVAK.tv, assisting Kivalina youth with documenting day-to-day life in the village, and hosted a nightly radio show on the VHF, a form of broadband radio that people use regularly to announce news, call children home at night, sell donuts, and offer prayers. Filmed interviews with people in Kivalina collected stories and opinions about politics, justice, and climate change.
While in Kivalina, we learned that relocation responses focusing on predicted impacts of erosion and climate change misses important opportunities to address critical deficiencies in the current village site. Relocation creates space to make visible the basic infrastructure that is currently lacking in the village, and opens up the potential to “re-locate” the village within the existing relationships that determine and surround village life. Improving access to clean water, remedying substandard housing options, and amplifying Kivalina’s voice in global conversations are all re-location projects.
As a multidisciplinary group, Re-Locate is studying methods that will help us ethically translate relocation possibilities while working across and through cultural and geographic distances. The following project partners participated in Camp One:
Michael Gerace Artist and Architect, Project Curator
Sharon Daniel Professor of Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz
Teresa Baker, Chelsea Muehe, Floris Schonfeld, Jason Parizo and Steve Sanchez California College of the Arts
Jen Marlow Co-Director Three Degrees, a multidisciplinary climate justice project founded at the University of Washington School of Law
Claudia Eipeldauer, Hannah Oellinger, Alon Schwabe, and Nisan Almog WochenKlausur, international artist collective based in Vienna, Austria
Klaus Mayer Co-founder of Mayer Sattler-Smith Architects, member of the Alaska Design Forum Board
Garrett Burtner Architect and artist working in Anchorage, board member of the Alaska Design Forum