Mare Amoris | Sea of Love gathers creative and intellectual practices that dissolve the colonial boundaries of oceans and their connected waters. Artists and their kin give language, voice, and form to these watery spaces, passed down through matrilineal storytelling, bodily memory, and land-based knowledge systems. Through artworks that confront the complexities of love, rage, grief and healing, Mare Amoris embraces love as an uprising: an active force with which to mobilise, organise, and create room for radical expressions of care beyond capital.
The title and translation of Mare Amoris gently moves beyond the Latin term ‘mare nullius’ used to violently erase and deny the rights of communities and their sovereign custodianship of Sea Country. ‘Mare nullius’ refers to the Eurocentric idea that sovereign rights end at the coastline, making oceans void of ownership. Increasingly complicated by sea level rise, ‘mare nullius’ and its legacies slice through ancestral rights and long-held stewardship of the seas.
Foundational to this exhibition is the inclusion of Maḏarrpa Senior Leader Djambawa Marawili AM’s artwork Yathikpa (2011), which recounts the sacred history of the saltwater territory of the Ancestral Crocodile Bäru. Yathikpa is part of a larger body of work that Marawili submitted to the Blue Mud Bay Native Title Claim (2008) as evidence of Yolŋu ownership of the Bay’s intertidal zone. This was the first successful case for Sea Rights in Australia, marking precedence for future sea claims. Artists delve into shadowed stories from the intertidal zone and waters beyond, refocusing our relationships to coastal spaces by championing the importance of caring for Sea Country and interspecies kin.
Curated by Peta Rake, Léuli Eshrāghi, Isabella Baker and Jocelyn Flynn. Exhibited artists include Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Christopher Bassi, Drew Kahuʻāina Broderick, Seba Calfuqueo, Elisa Jane Carmichael, Sonja Carmichael, Chun Yin Rainbow Chan, Mariquita ‘Micki’ Davis, Djambawa Marawili, New Mineral Collective, Santiago Mostyn, Leyla Stevens, Shannon Te Ao, Unbound Collective and Judy Watson.