[ISEA2018] Artist Statement: Kristine Diekman — Behold the Tilapia

Artist Statement

Art, Science & Us sub-programme

You see the tilapia in Egyptian art, its fat lips and fleshy body, and again the unmistakable top fin. You see the fish in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, turned to the west, its long, tall dorsal fin reaching across its back. It is known as the mother fish. Able to survive and adapt. She keeps babies in her mouth until the time they can swim and survive on their own. She endures increasing salinity. First 40 parts per thousand. Then 50. Then 60. She is a survivor. But just barely. It is true. She has a bad rap. Over abundant, bad tasting, foul smelling, cheap. Climate change, water diversion, and evaporation is killing the Salton Sea. While she may survive this year and next, she has stopped reproducing. And when the sea gets too salty even for her, she will finally die off. And her home will become a vast toxic wasteland. She will die and the birds will die, and even the unsuspecting brine shrimp will die.

  • Kristine Diekman is Professor at California State University San Marcos, U.S.A. She produces and directs experimental and documentary socially-engaged media projects. She has won awards and grants for her internationally screened media from California Arts Council, California Humanities Community Stories, Paul Robeson Foundation, ZKM, New York State Council on the Arts, New York Foundation for Art, The Keck Foundation and others. Her work is in such esteemed collections as the Getty Center, CA, Fales Library, NYC, Video Out, Vancouver, The Kitchen, NY, and the Lux Center, London. She is Director of Video in the Community, a program that collaborates with organizations and individuals to enact social change. Her current project, Run Dry, is a series of films and stories of water scarcity from California’s Central Valley region.  kristinediekman.net