About the Project
In 2014, Australian comic artist Sutu completed an artist in residence program at the Ilulissat Kunstmuseum in Greenland. During this time he collaborated with the Zeeb Berthelsen family and other community members to create a unique story in response to growing concerns about industrial growth in the arctic, the receding ice caps and the future of their young people.
He also visited the island of Uummannaq in northern Greenland where he had the pleasure of meeting and working with the staff and residents of the Uummannaq Children's Home. The home provides a comprehensive music program. In fact, the Uummannaq Chinldrens Orchestra has earned an international reputation and the home was instrumental in the production of the feature film, Inuk, which became Greenland's entry in to the 2012 Academy Awards.
The Ocean is Broken features live sound recordings from the area, original music composed by the Uummannaq Children's Orchestra and the main character, Piitaaraq, is inspired by the real life Piitaaraq Berthelsen.
Note from the Author.
The real Piitaaraq is an energetic teenager from Nuuk. I met him on a ship as we travelled for two days from Ilulissat to Nuuk. Piitaaraq had been in Illulissat for a National Tae Kwon Do championship. He had too much energy for the ship and was restlessly wandering back and forth between the ship's dining area and the deck. On the deck, Piitaaraq and his friends kept themselves entertained with Tae Kwon Do and a Japanese toy known as a kendama. As I watched the boys messing around I wondered how these cultures from Korea and Japan had become so popular in one of the most remote places on the planet and what else might arrive in Greenland in the future.
Around this time, there were reports that debris from Japans' 2011 tsunami had reached the east coast of the United States and radiation from Fukushima was also moving through the world's seas. Japanese people became concerned about consuming local seafood resulting in an increased in demand for seafood from Greenland. At the same time, scientists in northern Greenland were reporting high levels of toxicity in Greenlandic marine life caused by global industrial waste floating into arctic waters.
On my flight to Greenland, I saw a mining company had taken out a full page ad in the inflight magazine describing Greenland as the 'final frontier' as if suggesting that Greenland was the last place on the earth to be tapped. For 25 years, Greenland held a zero tolerance policy for uranium mining. When I visited the capital city of Nuuk, the Greenlandic people had taken to the streets to protest against the lifting of the ban. The pressure to change the policy was complicated and political. Mostly significantly, supporters felt that Greenland could gain independence from Denmark with the new income generated from uranium mining. Due to the inability to produce locally, almost everything from vegetables to door handles is shipped from Denmark. This financial burden means that remote communities such Uummannaq are under threat of closure as the Government struggles to justify subsidising the costs for shipping supplies.
Opponents and environmental organisations, however, warned that mining would have a serious detrimental impact on the arctic ecosystem.
During my time in Ilulissat, home of one of the most active glaciers on the planet, the thunderous sounds of ice cracking and crashing was constant. To put it into perspective, the amount of water New York City uses in a year, is the same amount of water that breaks off this glacier every single day.
As the climate change debate continues to rage it cannot be denied that industrial growth driven by our consumerist lifestyles is rapidly leading to the destruction of our planet.
How will we live when the sea levels rise and all our precious things float away?