Olivia Webb

In Paradisum (2015)

10 minSingle channel / Digital Video / Colour / Sound

"In Paradisum was first performed at the 2015 Oceanic Performance Biennial, Rarotonga, Cook Islands, as part of PSi#21 Fluid States – Performances of UnKnowing (a year long series of globally dispersed events, performances and dialogues). In the Cook Islands the central concern of Fluid States was the cultural, environmental and economic impact of sea level rise and climate change.

'In Paradisum', meaning ‘into paradise’, is a chant traditionally sung at a Catholic Requiem Mass on way to the burial site. In this artwork, the chant is sung from the beach into the depths of the water on a dying coral reef, and back again. The chanting does not cease beneath the water though it is no longer heard from the shore.

This procession echoes a pathway of colonial missionaries who brought not only Christianity to the Cook Islands, but also cultural practices that damaged delicate ecosystems and exploited natural resources. This practice is still (unwittingly) performed by many tourists. As a small example, the UV filter oxybenzone found in most sunscreens has been found to cause massive damage to coral reefs (see link below).

In Paradisum offers no answers to these big questions explored. Instead, the performance opens a space for contemplation of what has been done, and to minister to what is now in need."

Artist's statement

Other works by Olivia Webb

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