Pacific Geographies (Sep 2021)

“Defend the Oceans!” Ghostnet Art and Environmental Activism of Australian Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders

  • Walda-Mandel, Stephanie

Journal volume & issue
no. 56
pp. 4 – 12


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Ghostnet art is an art movement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that has been gaining enthusiastic followers worldwide in recent years, not only because of its impressive artistic design, but equally because of the artists’ message behind the artworks. The ghostnet sculptures, made mainly by members of two Australian Indigenous communities in Erub and Pormpuraaw are constructed from old fishing nets. For the artists, it is both an expression of their environmental activism to protect the oceans and their close connection with their natural environment. Their close relationship to the land and sea is reflected in the artworks, which also create a connection to their history, cultural heritage, identity, and their totems. Their works are based on their myths, their land and their culture. In 2018, the Übersee-Museum Bremen (eng. Overseas Museum Bremen) presented these impressive artworks for the first time in Germany in a small special exhibition, the realization and background of which will be discussed in this article