ARTIST LECTURE: Silence of Alarms

By Svenja Schüffler
12.01.2018 Kunstverein Tiergarten
“Dark, liquid” Vom Wissen und Nicht-Wissen des Meeres

In 2004 the Boxing Day tsunami took hundreds of thousands of lives. In answer, the German Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System was established, as an attempt to reduce the risk of tsunamis along the cost of Indonesian. But these instruments to reduce risk such as risk assessment and  management can become itself a source of risk, and therefore part of the problem.


What happened: in 2016 an earthquake in Indonesia did not trigger a tsunami warning. Today it seems that the buoys based warning system has been rendered useless, completely. All early warning buoys placed in Indonesian waters are now inoperable. Inoperable because of piracy, vandalism, theft by boat crews, and a lack of maintenance funding. The project management has overseen these risks. Although piracy seemed to be an ancient cultural technique and maybe an original condition of the ocean voyage and seems to express the consequences of today’s socio-political problems, such as consequences of free trade agreements, over fishing etc.

Officially the German institutions like GFZ communicated the warning system as a success and the useless buoys only as a minor problem for the warning system. However information concerning the operation status of the warning system on side of Germany and Indonesia is inconsistent. The question remains, what is the degree of protection in the moment of a tsunami for indonesian citizens? A missing but expected warning would become a direct threat to the population.