FAO 77 | 2011

FAO 77. Pigment print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Pearl, conservation matboard, adhesives. Series of three photographic relief sculptures, hand cut and assembled, different sizes.


In a world of limited resources, but unlimited wants and needs, commercial fishing stands as one of the major threats to marine biodiversity. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization FAO 87% of the world’s fisheries are now either overexploited or fully exploited (source: State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture SOFIA 2012). Headed and gutted, filleted or portioned, neatly packaged and appropriately labelled, fish are treated as mere commodities today and are no longer considered an integral part of a unique ecosystem.

The FAO divides the world oceans into a number of major fishing areas. Haydn, Mendelssohn and Sibelius each recreate a small portion of the Eastern Central Pacific region’s seabed topography at a scale of 1:100000. This region is also referred to as FAO 77. When searching for a suitable bathymetric map to use for this project, I came across a group of bizarre underwater peaks rising from the ocean floor north of the Hawaiin Islands named Musicians Seamounts and its fascinating cartographic representation by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA. Surprisingly, chart 15524-10B rather seems to illustrate whirlpool, wave or fish shoal motion patterns than geological features – a particularly beautiful template to work with.

The close up photographs featuring underwater flora and fauna were obtained through directly diving into the world of consumers. I took them during several trips across local supermarkets. When viewed from a distance, FAO 77 appears to be filled with vibrant sea life. On closer inspection this turns out to be an illusion. Once you immerse yourself in the blue ocean, you’ll find it composed of disposable food containers. What at first seemed like fish and aquatic plants in their natural state, suddenly prove to be refrigerated products from the supermarket shelf.