The Politics the Maldives Pavilion could not contain
The Maldives Exodus Caravan Show was initiated and curated by Danish artist Søren Dahlgaard and Berlin based curator Elena Gilbert including 45 contributors in the program of which 18 were Maldivian. The Maldives Exodus Caravan Show was part of the Museum of Everything official Collateral Event of the Venice Biennale 2013.
Due to the coup leading to an ill functioning democracy, The Maldives Exodus Caravan Show split from the official Maldives Pavilion in support of the MDP – Maldivian Democratic Party – and the 2008-2012 democratic President Nasheed. The Maldives Exodus Caravan Show program focuses on human rights, engagement, agency, continuity of practice, and alternatives in cultural production: alternatives that a national pavilion for a country disappearing in ecological and political disaster cannot contain.
As we finally move away from the Anthropocene and begin measuring human civilization’s impact on the Earth’s natural environment, we have only just started to address political climate and culture as part of climate change. The Maldives, a small atoll country located in the East Indian Ocean will be, in less than sixty years, the first country to disappear due to global warming. The issue of climate change is in Maldives accompanied the quest for democracy. This quest is a priority for many Maldivians, given the recent events that have led to more uncertainty in regard to the realization of democratic reforms in the beautiful paradise-like landscapes.
As former and first democratic President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, said, “The fight against climate change is a fight for human rights. It’s a fight for the right to exist in a healthy environment and to have the freedom that goes along with that. The climate debate is about that, and so is the fight for democracy.”
Former President Nasheed was forced to leave office in February 07, 2012 during a military coup that many believe was backed by the former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Since the coup, the Maldives has been in a political crisis, and police brutality and political repression have become defining features of the coup regime. The pro-democratic Maldivians continued their protests until the regime announced new elections. The first electionround was held in 7 September 2013; Former President Nasheed won 45% of the votes, while Abdulla Yameen, half-brother of dictator Gayoom, came in on a distant second place with 25%. The business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim acquired 23% of the votes and came in third place. Gasim filed a case with the Supreme Court (SC) complaining voting irregularities, even though all local and international observers declared the first round as free and fair.
Based on a secret Police document submitted by the then Attorney General against the Election Commission, the SC annulled the first round of election. For fear that Nasheed might win the election, the anti-democratic elements further delayed the election with the support of the SC. After significant pressure from pro-democratic protesters and the international community, a new first round and a run-off election were held on the 9th and 16th November respectively. Abdulla Yameen narrowly won the second run-off vote against Nasheed with 51.39%. Nasheed accepted the defeat and pledged to continue as a responsible opposition to hold the government accountable.
Although there currently appears to be some stability in Maldives with an elected president, the current government is in the hands of the old guards of dictator Gayoom. Most worryingly, Gayoom is active in politics and his influence in the current government is apparent. This leads to question whether the Maldives is able to move forward with the necessary democratic reforms.Soren Dahlgaard and Elena Gilbert on behalf of the Maldives Exodus Caravan Show