Disturbing Conservation: Remapping the Avencas MPA
Disturbing Conservation: Remapping the Avencas MPA is an alternative Interpretation Centre for the Avencas Marine Protected Area (MPA, in Cascais, Portugal). The work is designed to question critically and creatively what role creative institutions might play in ecological conservation initiatives? And how the public can reconsider their responsibility and relationship to Marine Protected Areas?
In ecological conservation, MPAs are legally designated habitats designed to regulate a tidal territory for the long-term conservation of nature. They protect wildlife at the same time they are entangled with issues of species hierarchy, conflicts with aquaculture, infrastructure, governance and more. The decisions made about the management and protection of marine environments are not in themselves neutral acts but are bound to societal values and wider sociocultural-economic systems. Disturbing Conservation reimagines MPAs in this expanded sense, not just as physical sites for ecological recovery but also as the object of a social challenge. The question we wish to raise to the public is: How do we culturally care for an MPA?
In maat the Interpretation Centre works to complicate ideas of the MPA, while aiming to cultivate a new conservation imaginary. It’s point of departure is to re-imagine interpretation as an infrastructure and mediating system for visualizing the lesser cared for concerns attached to marine conservation areas. Each display and accompanying series of events borrow from feminism, queer studies and more-than-human positions to bring forth other stories and realities, by taking care of what and who is being represented in the Centre. Through deep timelines, expanded food chains, a bill of rights for microbes and empathy cards, the interpretation centre begins to articulate some of the absent concerns and entangled complexities that produce the contemporary space of the Avencas so that we may better care with an MPA.
Dani Admiss and Gillian Russell are feminist technoscience designers, curators and researchers.