The ocean has been the unit of exchange through which a sea change makes a person a commodity…
–Gumbs, Alexis Pauline, “Being Ocean as Praxis: Depth Humanisms and Dark Sciences”
Qui Parle: Critical Humanities and Social Sciences, Volume 28, Number 2, December 2019, pp. 335-352 (Article), Published by Duke University Press
Channel Mist, (performance, Copenhagen Art Week 2015/16) is a participatory framework for creating a sprayable essence made from Copenhagen harbor waters and plant essences. 100 audience members aboard a boat work to harvest, filter, channel intention, add essences and bottle the harbor water to create the line of Channel Mist essences. These were then later auctioned off at the site of the West Indian Warehouse in Copenhagen, the former warehouse for goods that were procured through the Triangular Slave Trade from the 1600’s to 1800’s. Denmark’s wealth was made off of the labor of those enslaved to produce these goods, and this landmark building is one of the few sites that offers a reminder of this trauma and greed.
Channel Mist is a means to consider and respect water, and the energy and natural filtration that is required to keep it drinkable. Biofilters strung throughout the boat were used to make filtration transparent. Water is transformed into an artifact, a byproduct of an experience, a memento through which a story can be re-lived by using the Channel Mist essence. The essences were auctioned off in exchange for individual intentions.
This project was a culmination of research on the famously clean water quality in Denmark and how this is achieved. It is also a way of contemplating and critiquing the commodification and privatization of a basic building block of life. The accumulation of wealth by a few that comes with commodifying life is absurd. This critique within project’s conceptualisation is not evident at first: The Channel Mist essence line masks as an essence, just as an essence masks a true scent hidden beneath, and just as manufactured desire masks the value and dignity of the object of desire.
This first performance was part of Copenhagen Art Week 2015.