Dead Zones


If there is a part of the earth where we don't know enough about it is the ocean. How to understand and have empathy for its current problems when we don't have a good perception of its environment? What is currently happening anyway in the ocean and where does it leave our responsibility to it ?  

That is when the visual artist Suzette Bousema and the musician and instrument maker Rafaele Andrade came up with the performance concept of “Dead zones”. In this experience, the makers invite the public for a metaphoric scuba diving session in a Dead zone area located in Verse meer, Zeeland. 

Credits:  Shinji Otani, 2023

In this performance, 3 performers interact with visuals projected onto the walls of the space , representing a diving experience in one of The Netherlands dead zone areas.  according to the narrative of the performance to create a sensation that the public is diving into different depths of the water.

Together, we aim to bring environmental discussion and awareness about man made dead zones that are the result of nutrient pollution  coming from   fertilisers and other waste streams. The performance is created in the context of the Waterwende Atelier of the opera production Silbersee.This project is also receiving the support of Ruigoord and Instrument inventors initiative (Fonds Podium Kunst).

This is not a scuba diving experience you would see in your summer holidays:  The deeper you go, the less visibility you will perceive by a bloom of algae growth. An insane amount of jelly fishes cover your face and at the ground, you will touch a deep layer of white bacteria. Rafaele and Suzette with violinist Coraline Groen and projection artist Aart Odding, will guide you through the depths of this environment.

The underwater field recordings and the video documentation were produced by themselves in this location, with the support of the scuba diver instructor Dennis Moureau.

Credits:  Suzette Bousema, 2023

you can find the trailer of our performance below:

The story

In the multimedia project, which includes the documentary and performance, the alarming issues will be presented of huge algae blooms in many coastal areas as a result of man-made water pollution of fertilizers that have been used in agriculture. Because of its imbalance,  these ecosystems are low in oxygen and therefore marine life is not possible, except for algae and bacteria; these are so-called ‘Dead zones’. For the documentary Suzette has already done extensive research in collaboration with scientists of NIOZ and together with Rafaele they will start an audio research by recording while diving together in the Grevelingenmeer, where one of the Dutch ‘dead zones’ is located.

The process

The creative process is part of the multimedia project and documentary, which serve as a starting point for discussions. It involves the research of sustainable practices and actions into music and theatrical production. Previously, Rafaele has been designing her own instrument (KNURL) with recycled plastic collected from the BENELUX ocean area and intends to continue this research exploring sustainable practices in collaboration with the artistic practice of Suzette. Next to the performance, Suzette will also create artworks, using seaweed, photography and installation. Rafaele will create a special soundtrack for the film and an album with the whole material. 

The motivation 

Suzette and Rafaele are artistically driven for the same reason: through their art and artistic practice, they aim to share environmental topics and solutions to reduce our human impact on, for example, climate change. Besides their shared passion for diving, as a photographer, Suzette is inspired to capture the invisible organisms and forces that aren’t visible or experienced in human life. Rafaele seeks to transform her music practice into a direct influence in political, environmental and social discussions. In the last year, they were collaborating previously in the project “Super organism”.