Nosh Neneh & Esther van der Heijden

Living Monuments of The Deep
70x100cm, Hahnemühle FA Pearl on polystyrene, black aluminum frame, 2023

The word monument derived from the Latin word monumentum “that which remembers” from the verb monere “to remember”. A monument helps to give an important event, person or animal a place in our collective memory. Living Monuments of the Deep reflects on what monuments might look like in terms of the loss of species.

For this project, we researched ocean species on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red list, which is a critical indicator of the health of the world’s biodiversity. How do we relate to a species on the edge of extinction? How do we honor a species? We selected creatures playing key roles in the ocean’s chemistry and ecosystem, and which have varying causes for extinction. We created sculptural costumes which we photographed and filmed. The endangered ocean species are the fundaments of these sculptural costumes.

In the film, absurd hybrid creatures deconstruct boundaries between humans and animals. The setting is an uncanny, deserted ocean in which only a few creatures are left, wandering and searching. By creating hybrid creatures and blurring the boundaries between humans and animals, we aim to provoke reflection and challenge conventional notions of species hierarchy. Ultimately, this project tries to reminds us of the importance of protecting species and biodiversity. By creating monuments for ancient creatures, we question the idea of permanence and confront the fact that life on Earth is fragile.

By provoking reflection and highlighting the fragility of life on Earth, this project aims to remind viewers of the importance of protecting species and biodiversity. It raises questions about permanence, urging us to consider how we honor and remember these endangered creatures, and how we can take action to prevent further extinctions. In the context of ‘The Essence of Home,’ the project prompts visitors to contemplate the interconnectedness of all life forms and the responsibility we bear in preserving our planet’s natural heritage.