Boat People

‘Homelessness is coming to be the destiny of the world’ suggested Martin Heidegger in 1946, in a discussion with Jean-Paul Sartre and in the immediate aftermath of the mass movement of people created by the Second World War. In 1946 this displacement was a shocking legacy. Sixty years on, with the escalating movement of people escaping conflict and environmental catastrophe across the world, has Heidegger's prediction come true? Has homelessness become the norm rather than the exception? And is contemporary thought anywhere near catching up with this reality?

Boat People is an essay film that explores this question. Taking as its starting point the historic version of Britain as an island and seafaring nation the film counterpoints the surety of this assertion of identity with the contingency of movement. This movement isn’t only human. Boat People is also a questioning of the role the moving image itself plays in the representation of human movement and the migration of ideas. Just as the invention of the telescopic lens brought near and far together for the very first time, Boat People is about the way in the twenty-first century the near and far are mediated and transformed by the new ‘perception accelerator’, the digital image.

Director: Sarah Wood, UK, 2016, video, 23 mins

Boat People was commissioned by Whitstable Biennale 2016.