Dahlgaard’s The Inflatable island is visiting different landscapes around the world in an ongoing photo series, which started at the Venice Biennale in 2013. The island acts as a sculptural prop representing the climate refugees from Maldives and elsewhere, who most likely will need to find a new home sometime soon. Since Venice, The Inflatable island has traveled to New Zealand, USA, Spain, Poland, Australia, Sri Lanka, Denmark, China, Israel, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands with more places to follow.
The island suggests some sort of radical transformation is required in order to adapt to the new conditions brought by climate change and humanity’s impact on the planet. As it travels around in the new geological era known as the Anthropocene (shaped by humans) landscape, will it find a new home in any of these foreign lands? And will it be welcomed?
Søren Dahlgaard is a Danish artist and curator, who lived in the Maldives for three years with his family working as a tropical farmer, using permaculture methods to environmental regeneration. Building on this experience, Dahlgaard creates “action sculptures” and socially engaged artworks using play and absurdity to inspire and prompt reflection about the causes and implications of climate change and displacement issues facing the Maldives, and other low-lying, small island developing states. His work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions around world, including the 2013 Venice Biennale and Art + Climate= Change 2015. Dahlgaard also holds a doctorate from the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne.
Dahlgaard’s work was shown in Marrakesh, Morocco at a DISPLACEMENT exhibition developed in collaboration with the Platform on Disaster Displacement during the December 2018 Global Forum on Migration and Development, and the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.
Images of the island were also part of an exhibition commissioned by the UN Disaster Risk Reduction Office (UNDRR) alongside the Lake Geneva border in Geneva, Switzerland in May 2019. Dahlgaard also exhibited the island and spoke during the UN Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction, in collaboration with the Platform on Disaster Displacement and the Norwegian Refugee Council.