Work in Progress & Interactive Installation by Sharon Daniel
'Contra-Culture' International Artist Residency
January - February 2020

Sharon Daniel is a media artist and Professor of Film and Digital Media at the University of California, who produces interactive and participatory documentaries focused on issues of social, economic, environmental and criminal justice. Daniel builds online archives and interfaces that make the stories of marginalised and disenfranchised communities available across social, cultural and economic boundaries. 

IN THE FOURTH WORLD documents the social, economic and environmental challenges faced by the isolated Inupiaq village of Kivalina and (200 similar Native villages in rural Alaska) where indigenous people live below the poverty line, without running water, toilets, waste disposal systems, adequate health care, quality education or access to employment.

In 2006, the Army Corps of Engineers concluded that coastal erosion, exacerbated by climate change, would render Kivalina uninhabitable within 10-15 years. Village leaders seek to relocate, but are consistently frustrated by their dealings with State and Federal officials. Alaskan Native Villages are legally “domestic dependent nations” and are in dispute with their governments over sovereignty, fair representation in the cash economy, and the space to practice a traditional way of life.

IN THE FOURTH WORLD installation will include: interviews with residents who describe Kivalina’s political history, it’s relationship to local and global agencies, Inupiaq traditional knowledge and subsistence lifestyle, and the witnessed effects of climate change on the island; video, photographs, and historical documents contributed by Kivalina residents; interviews with legal, political and scientific experts; and relevant historical and statistical information.

Kivalina is in crisis – a crisis produced by multiple forces, histories and circumstances spanning many years. Its causal factors cut across many fields of discourse – scientific, legal, cultural, racial, religious, political, geographical. It is not one story, but a complex of many narratives, with many arcs, scenes and actors. IN THE FOURTH WORLD will weave these stories together to document; the environmental degradation caused by climate change, resource extraction and local pollutants; the loss of sovereignty, land and tradition due to colonization; and the socio-cultural and economic inequalities that Kivalina residents face, first hand. It will be designed to allow audiences to understand these interrelated forces and to help Kivalina residents advocate for their own future.

Enoch Adams on cultural conflIct.

From January to February Daniel will be creating an interactive installation as part of her artist residency at HOP Projects. The installation will provide an interface to a digital archive of original interviews, observational footage, and historical community-generated media, revealing the social and environmental injustice suffered in the village of Kivalina – where indigenous people live below the poverty line, without running water, or access to employment. As part of “contra-culture”, the installation will constitute a ‘counter-map,’ not of conquest, but of protest – recording the historical trespasses and brutalities of the colonial project in Alaska, and charting the real topographies of precarity and state violence Kivalina encounters today.

Daniel will be staging a work-in-progress exhibition and open studio sessions. The concluding project is scheduled to premiere at the CPH:DOX festival in Copenhagen March 18-29, 2020.