By investigating the process followed by the Chinese nation towards the construction of an artificial island in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, this installation demonstrates how the ‘act of building’ has become a central factor in claiming sovereignty.
The project explores the strategy adopted by the Chinese state towards the construction of one out of seven artificial islands in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. China redesigned the natural world to establish power over the six other countries that claim this part of the Sea. The artificial island becomes an imperialist tool to gain political, military and financial control. Next to granting itself access to some valuable natural assets, China has shown that it is willing to disturb the global geostrategic hierarchies. Now more than ever, we are witnessing how nation-states transform and ‘naturalize’ the landscape in order to rewrite history, and how the ‘act of building’ has become a central factor in claiming sovereignty.
Following a materials-based narrative, an earth core sample and a video are used as visual representations of the island's manufacturing process. With satellite images being the only available visual sources on the seven artificial territories, their verticality is often neglected. Thus, the installation offers a double reading of the island: what appears to be its flat reality is shown through a vertical representation of its construction.