Twenty-three million cubic metres of earth were shifted by 10,000 bodies, erecting a seawall (the Afsluitdijk) and saving human lives. This division of the North Sea led to the death of an ecosystem, transforming the Zuiderzee into the Ijselmeer: now a body of fresh water. In the face of rising oceans, the Dutch water board has realised that land will have to be ceded back to the sea – the Afsluitdijk is becoming a site of negotiation.
Using their bodies as mediators, two swimmers pull dashed lines along either side of the seawall. After tracing parallel paths, they diverge, unzipping the divide. Opening space as they leave the frame to join the waters beyond.
Swimming becomes an act of drawing, suggestive of demarcations like those on a map or diagram. Unlike two-dimensional schema, the lines in the water are subject to the motion of swell, currents and tides. After human activity hauls itself before and then out of the viewer’s gaze, the water’s ebb carries a new potentiality.
Thanks to Mathilde Heuliez, Klára Vančíková and Marta Pagliuca Pelacani.