SeaWomen is a video and sound installation by Mikhail Karikis focusing on a fast vanishing community of elderly female sea workers living on the North Pacific island of Jeju – a jagged patch of black volcanic rock that belongs to South Korea and floats between Japan and China. The work was created during Karikis’s residency on the island, when he encountered a group of women called haenyeo (sea-women), now in their late 70s and 80s, who dive to great depths with no oxygen supply to find pearls and catch sea-food. This ancient female profession became the dominant economic force on the island by the 1970s, establishing a matriarchal system. Karikis’s project SeaWomen witnesses the diving women’s insistence on sustainable eco-feminist work practices operating outside the trend of industrialization. It observes the reversal of traditional gender-roles, the women’s deep sense of community and egalitarianism, their collective economics, and their sense of professional identity, purpose, fun and independence in later age.
Watch the SeaWomen trailer