Please Explain: no one’s drowning, baby



2.00PM – 3.30PM

SUN 19 JAN 2020

Pacific Island nations are in the midst of a climate change crisis. This edition of 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art’s Please Explain talks series takes Marshall Islander poet, performance artist, educator Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner’s address and poem  “Dear Matafele Peinem”, presented at the 2014 Opening Ceremony of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit as a starting point for discussion on the role artists and activists play in this major challenge facing our Pacific region.

Although the South Pacific Islands collectively emit far below 1% of total global greenhouse gases responsible for climate change, the region and its island countries remain among the most vulnerable in the world to its negative impacts. With the failure of Australia to agree to the Tuvalu Declaration at the 2019 Pacific Islands Forum (which aimed to not only acknowledge a climate change crisis but also have countries agree to revise the emissions reductions targets and calls for a rapid phase out of coal use), PIF chair, Tuvalu’s Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga said to Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, “ ‘You are concerned about saving your economy in Australia … I am concerned about saving my people in Tuvalu.'”

4A’s series Please Explain invites presenters to rethink, recharge and reimagine contemporary issues through the arts and academia and in this session we ask: what stories are being told across our ocean, and what are we to lose if the crisis is not met with appropriate action? What is the role of art and policy here –  what can we do?

In a discussion moderated by Sydney Festival Artistic Director Wesley Enoch, artist Paula Schaafhausen exhibiting at 4A Centre as part of Wansolwara: One Salt Water will speak to this issue alongside Guardian Australia Pacific Editor, Kate Lyons and UNSW’s Professor John Church, pre-eminent expert in sea level rise, in this major Sydney Festival panel event.
Wansolwara: One Salt Water is presented in partnership with UNSW Galleries, and supported by Art Monthly Australasia, FBi Radio and Sydney Festival.

Please Explain: no one’s drowning, baby is presented with support from Sydney Festival.

4A acknowledges and pays respect to the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of the land on which 4A Centre for Contemoporary Asian Art is built and operates.

Artist Paula Schaafhausen, exhibiting at 4A Centre as part of Wansolwara: One Salt Water, Guardian Australia Pacific Editor Kate Lyons and Professor John Church, pre-eminent expert in sea level rise, speak to this issue in this major Sydney Festival panel event moderated by Wesley Enoch.

Listen to the days recording here:

Speaker Profiles:

 | Moderator: Wesley Enoch

| Wesley Enoch is a writer and director for the stage. He was the Artistic Director of Queensland Theatre Company from 2010 to 2015 and is the current Artistic Director at the Sydney Festival. He hails from Stradbroke Island (Minjeribah) and is a proud Noonuccal Nuugi man.

Previously Wesley has been the Artistic Director at Kooemba Jdarra Indigenous Performing Arts; Artistic Director at Ilbijerri Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Theatre Co-operative and the Associate Artistic Director at Belvoir Street Theatre. Wesley’s other residencies include Resident Director at Sydney Theatre Company from 2000 – 2001; the 2002 Australia Council Cite Internationale des Arts Residency in Paris and the Australia Council Artistic Director for the Australian Delegation to the 2008 Festival of Pacific Arts. He was creative consultant, segment director and indigenous consultant for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Wesley has written and directed some of Australia’s most iconic Indigenous theatre productions.


Kate Lyons

| Kate Lyons is the Pacific Editor of Guardian Australia, and was previously a reporter and live-blogger on Guardian Australia’s foreign desk, where she anchors the Guardian’s live coverage of breaking world news and reports on Asia and the Pacific. She previously worked at the Guardian UK and has won a Drum Online Media Award and been longlisted for the Orwell Prize for exposing Britain’s social evils. Through the Pacific journalism project Guardian Australia will establish a network of Indigenous Pacific journalists and collaborate with publications across the Pacific, including Vanuatu, Tonga, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands, Samoa, French Polynesia and New Caledonia. The aim is to increase public discussion of the social, geo-political, environmental, and economic issues relevant to the region. Kate will also commission major investigations and present these stories in new and engaging ways, including through collaboration with other Australian media organisations.


 | Paula Schaafhausen

| Paula Schaafhausen (b. Motuatua, Samoa 1972 lives and works in Maloloelelei, Samoa) is a Samoan artist who has been educated in Aotearoa New Zealand obtaining her Masters of Fine Arts from Elam, University of Auckland. Her practice reflects her culture and her concerns around the environment. Since returning to Samoa as an adult the clear effects of climate change on the landscape – from changes in the coastline to the impact of plastics on the beaches and ocean – have deeply influenced her practice. Paula currently manages the Aiga Folau o Samoa (the Samoan Voyaging Society) where she is developing programs around traditional navigating drawn from traditional Samoan knowledge. Exhibitions include: Hidden Gems, Taumeasina Island Resort, Apia, Samoa (2019), Ebbing Tagaloa, Enjoy Public Art Gallery, Wellington Aotearoa New Zealand (2014) and Material Culture, Fresh Gallery, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand (2010).


 | Professor John Church

| Professor John Church was a research scientist with CSIRO from 1978 to 2016, and in the 1990s was the initial leader of the ocean climate program in the then Division of Oceanography. He helped establish the predecessor of the now Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Research Centre.  He was promoted to CSIRO Fellow in 2010.  His focus for the last two decades has been the role of the ocean in the climates system, particularly anthropogenic climate change. He is an expert in estimating and understanding global and regional sea-level variability and change, and the Earth’s energy budget. He has made major contributions to the international climate research over many years through membership and chairing of the Scientific Steering Group of the World Ocean Circulation Experiment and the Joint Scientific Committee of the Wold Climate Research Programme and contributions to the Global Climate Observing System. He is the author of over 150 refereed publications, over 100 other reports and co-edited three books. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, the American Meteorological Society and the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society.