SCREENING SELECTION 2020
Nominated for SDG Films - Goal 14: Life Below Water
Country: South Africa
Director: Janet Solomon
Producer: Janet Solomon
Editor: Viki Van Den Barselaar-Smith
Becoming Visible is a short multiscreen environmental documentary that explores the pressing issue of offshore oil and gas development off the South African coastline and it’s consequence to our marine life. It advances the theme of nature as political asset and questions the scripts of consumptive economics embedded in South Africa’s governmental approaches to environmental policy. The film focuses on a seismic survey off the East Coast of RSA, which was extended into the whale migration season in July 2016. There were a number of unusual deepwater-mammal strandings during and after this survey. Becoming Visible investigates the risks posed by unilateral and indiscriminate traumatizing noise exposure from marine seismic surveys to many marine species, and the vulnerability of fishery-based livelihoods to these impacts.
It is the politics of nature representations and the limits of visualising the nonhuman that drives the work of artist and filmmaker Janet Solomon. Solomon’s lifelong passion for the natural environment can be felt intensely in all her work that responds to our persistent role in its demise, or to the perilous state of various species.
Solomon is best known for her photographic and painting Green Screen series, comprising over 40 works, which travelled to museums around South Africa (2014 -2016). Solomon developed an interest in film and documentary form as a means to investigate the politics of offshore oil and gas as South Africa faces Jacob Zuma’s push for a ‘blue economy’. Solomon directed and produced Becoming Visible, in which she foregrounds animal strandings as a way of thinking about the political impunity, the profit motive, and exaggerated scientific and quantitative approach in an age of ‘tough oil’ and heightened environmental risks.