Wish you were here: Shifting the tourist gaze toward the local


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Left: Kareen Adam, “Wish you could see what I’m seeing” (2020), digital postcard, size variable * Right: Mo Manal, “how to do so was the question” (2020), digital collage

Maldives is synonymous with luxury holidays: the ultimate “Robinson Crusoe” island escape where you can be treated like royalty and step out of your busy lives. Over the span of 50 years, Maldivian tourism developed from humble beginnings to a place that now welcomes over one million tourists per year (almost double the country’s population), and the number of resorts is reaching close to the number of inhabited islands. However, obscured from tourists’ eyes are complex realities of a population of people grappling with the impact of rapid development, situated at the forefront of the biggest climate calamity facing human existence.

Two Maldivian artists, one living in Melbourne, one in the Maldives talk about their connection to the Maldives, and how their art practices have become a medium of telling their stories about what it means to live in and belong to, a place that is so romanticised in the global consciousness.

This conversation is facilitated by Helen Runting.