Archiving a sinking nation

Archiving a sinking nation
Tuvalu's first digitally recreated island : Te Afualiku Islet
A look at the digital national archive of the sinking island of Tuvalu as a case study to unravel narratives beyond territories.

MATTERS + Justine Daquin
Paris, France
Team members
Valentin Bansac (MATTERS)
Justine Daquin
Alice Loumeau (MATTERS)
Field of work
Architecture, Ecology, Multimedia, Curating, Research
Project category
Raising awareness
Project submitted

MATTERS + Justine Daquin

MATTERS is a tentacular collective endeavor that explores new territorial narratives through creative research, text, installation and exhibition. Mobilizing interdisciplinary alliances and the accumulation of media, their investigations portray the entanglement of human and non-human trajectories through political controversies. MATTERS valorizes shared authorship as well as long and short term collaborations. As part of MATTERS, Alice Loumeau is an architect-cartographer who conducts territorial studies through writing and cartography ; Valentin Bansac is a researcher-photographer, who explores photography as an ethnographic tool. They met at OMA/AMO in Rotterdam and have initiated several independent projects together. They took part in the Experimentation in Arts and Politics program led by Bruno Latour and Frédérique Aït-Touati at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) in 2022.

Justine Daquin is an independent curator and architect. Her research and work are strongly related to liminal territories and the archiving and preserving of marginalised voices. Since 2014, Justine has collaborated with international architects and artists (Hiroshi Sugimoto, Shigeru Ban, l’AUC) with which she developed mainly exhibition related content. In 2018, she co-created the women-led French-Moroccan collective Calypso36°21 and itinerant curatorial programme, exploring the liminality of mediterranean borderscapes. In 2020, she curated the programme’s exhibitions in Tangiers (MA) and in Marseille (FR) for Manifesta13. In 2021, Justine was a fellow of TBA21-Academy’s Ocean Fellowship, where she continued to collaborate as a curator for the 2022 Spring semester of Ocean/Uni. She was invited to speak about it at a symposium organized by Cove Park at the occasion of COP26 and was then hosted there as a recipient of the Fluxus Art Projects grant to expand this same research.


During COP26 in 2022, Simon Kofe, the foreign minister of the Polynesian island country of Tuvalu, performed a plea for a global reduction of CO2 emissions with his feet and desk immersed in sea water. Tuvalu is set to become the first country to entirely sink under the Ocean due to sea level rise by 2050. On the brink of its disappearance as land, Tuvalu has taken a radical position to become “the first digital nation”, thus creating a digital clone of its geography and culture.

The definition of nations as territorial spaces delimited by borders is challenged by a catastrophic situation that offers a potential to go beyond usual dichotomies of physical and digital, visible and invisible, cultural and natural.

The practice of archiving brings into light the question of what is worth saving and what will be lost within the heritage of human and non-human origins, and how to document often oral Polynesian cultural practices and natural elements.


Our project proposal offers to take a look at the digital national archive of Tuvalu as a case study to unravel multiple burning stories of our contemporary world : climate change adaptation, a nation without its territory, moving borders, the practice of digital archiving, documenting cultural performances, and many more. Each of the themes here above could be per se one topic to be developed. We are proposing a three-fold methodology around which the exhibition will be composed, instead of offering an exhaustive view of the subject :

1. Presence
Giving a physical presence to the archive where will be exhibited results of multimedia investigations of Tuvalu.

2. Speculation
A more artistic approach to the concept of “global archives" which could be shaped in a sensitive film, a series of photographs, etc.

3. Talks/Visits
Punctual events will investigate in-depth specific notions related to the exhibition with thinkers from sciences, spatial practices, art and humanities.