Until October 22, Echo 119 Gallery presents On the Shore of a Vanishing Island by Korean photographer Daesung Lee.
It is an exhibition of photographs taken on the island of Ghoramara, India, which disappears as the sea level rises. Lee’s photographs show us how global warming is already impacting our lives. Since the 1960s, the coasts of Ghoramara have been eroding, resulting in the disappearance of already more than 50% of the territory due to the rise in sea level. As the water advances, part of the inhabitants of this island 5km2 are relocating to the center, while others are taking refuge on neighboring islands as part of an evacuation plan orchestrated by the government. The population went from 40,000 in the 1960s to 5,000 in 2011, when the photographer visited the island. In 2016, there were only 3,000 left. Those who remain in Ghoramara are mainly farmers and fishermen who depend on the island’s resources for their livelihood. Despite the evacuation plan, the meager compensation provided is often not enough to rebuild a home on neighboring islands, let alone an entire life. It should be noted that even today, the status of climate refugee is not recognized in international law. Lee witnessed the disappearance of the island and, with it, the past of its inhabitants. The exposed roots of plants destroyed by erosion serve to illustrate the lack of foundation in the lives of these people. The sea swallows up their past while their future remains unknown, says Lee. The continuous retreat of the shore and the disappearance of vegetation left behind them a layer of sediments of a beauty that contrasts with the increasingly denuded shores.