Corporations and states are positioning the immensely deep waters and undersea lands of the Pacific Ocean as frontiers that are only just becoming known and important through their efforts to extract fossil fuels, copper, gold, and silver, among other materials. Despite these aggressive attempts to territorialize the ocean as a frontier, seabed mining has become an embattled site in the Pacific, where it is opposed by social movements in specific locales and in networks through the ocean and beyond. In this essay, I explore the art and media activism of these struggles, focusing on Greenpeace photographs of a Te Whānau-ā-Apanui fishing boat crossing a seismic survey ship contracted to Petrobras in the Raukūmara Basin, Aotearoa New Zealand, and Hawaiian artist Joy Enomoto's Nautilus the Protector woodcut prints, in which a nautilus battles mining infrastructure in the Bismarck Sea, Papua New Guinea. Against but also far beyond engaging mining, activists express close connections between people and the ocean, including deep waters and lands, countering mining narratives in which such connections are predicated on physically penetrating into and exposing the depths. Through creative, improvised tactics—such as linking fishing to a struggle against fossil fuel extraction, or using woodcut printing, a fast and cheap media form, to animate different imaginaries against a flood of high-tech corporate representations of the ocean—activists find ways to rework conditions of economic disparity and of aggressive exclusion from proposed mining sites.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.