Public Lab Research note

Shivaji Competition: Islands, Deltas and Rising Seas

by glennweiss | January 23, 2016 14:43 23 Jan 14:43 | #12604 | #12604

In GIF format, the Shivaji Competition seeks actual and impossible ideas to maintain human habitation on islands and deltas doomed by the predicted sea level rise of at least one meter in the 21st century. All entries will be submitted as animated GIFs for social media broadcast and museum exhibition. One finalist will be selected to participate in the Rising Waters Confab 2016 to be held on Captiva Island, Florida, USA in May, 2016. Roundtrip transportation provided. Visit All entries due on March 10, 2016. Free to enter.

  1. International competition of ideas for islands, deltas and their cultures doomed by sea level rise in the 21st century.
  2. Proposal competition using animated GIFs format for mass social media distribution
  3. Named after Shivaji Maharaj, the great 17th century warrior king and protector of India’s islands.

“The Shivaji Competition: Islands, Deltas and Rising Seas.” The great warrior king of 17th century India, Shivaji Maharaj, established the Maratha Empire against the dominant Mughals and held off the territorial ambitions of the Europeans. Part of his legacy is a group of island forts in the Arabian Sea with stonewalls ringing the edges against the sea and the Europeans. The Shivaji island forts are the starting metaphor and reality for responses to the invasion of the seawaters for the barrier islands and low elevation islands and deltas around the world.

With the predicted sea level rise of at least one meter, thousands of islands and deltas and millions of people around the world will be threatened with frequent saltwater floods from storms and king tides. Freshwater may disappear. Sewer and rainwater drainage will not function. Evacuation will intensify a refuge crisis and tensions in national borders. Most islands have a light human or agricultural intervention. Others like Miami Beach are dense urban places.

The competition asks artists, architects, designers, planners, scientists and writers to propose the practical and impossible to maintain the continued human habitation of these islands throughout the 21st century. The ideas should be demonstrated on an island or delta under high risk to bring worldwide attention to these threatened places and push the world to live up to Article 8 of the COP21 agreement signed in Paris.

Responses can be elaborate infrastructures for urban cities and DIY methods for agricultural islands by residents with very limit economic resources. (or vis-a-versa). Both parody and reality are welcome as long as the proposals help wake up politicians, engage the minds of a broad public and respect the people of the islands or deltas. Think like Shivaji. The old political structure has lost its ability to respond and the invasion of the little known outside forces from the sea pose a serious threat to your way of life.

Each entry will be submitted online as an animated GIF demonstrating a proposal when the sea rises at least one meter. The GIFs should be persuasive to an international audience. Humor, drama, paradox and factual reality in photographs, anime, renderings and all other visual formats are acceptable. Clarity of idea and message is important.

A group of 10-25 finalists will be selected by Glenn Weiss and Buster Simpson in consultation with Rising Waters Confab participants. These finalists will become part of a traveling exhibition available to museums, global warming conferences and outdoor giant screens. One of the finalists will be selected to join Confab 2016 for one week in May 2016. Round trip travel provided.

Glenn Weiss, Competition Author and Organizer Weiss is the former manager of the Times Square public art program and past curator for institutions such as the Storefront for Art and Architecture and PS1 in New York City.

Buster Simpson, Rising Waters Artist/Curator For decades from Seattle, Buster Simpson has produced public artworks, agitprop and process-driven art for cities and museums across North America. He seeks local solutions for global issues and reinforces the ecological and social conscience for neighborhoods and cities.

Rising Waters Confab The Rising Waters Confab 2016 will be held at the Rauschenberg Residency on Captiva Island, Florida in the Gulf of Mexico between April 25 – May 26, 2016. The Confab is designed to spark a productive dialogue amongst scientists, activists, artists, island dwellers, and others, and work toward addressing the realities of sea level rise. The 2016 participants will be announced soon. The 2015 participants, selected by artists Buster Simpson and Laura Sindell, included David Buckland, Mel Chin, Xavier Cortada, Orion Cruz, Gretel Ehrlich, John Englander, Walter Hood, Lewis Hyde, Natalie Jeremijenko, Edward Morris, Helen Nagge, Jeremy Pickard, Andrea Polli, Thomas Ruppert, Susannah Sayler, Tom Van Lent, Glenn Weiss, June Wilson, Kristie Anders and Anne Focke. The online catalog of projects from 2015 can be downloaded at

Links Competition Website: Existing Engineering and Situations: Sample GIFs: Recommended GIF Maker: Rising Waters Confab:


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