If We Were the Sea


If We Were the Sea grew out of a desire to steep in the journey home to Vancouver by way of land and sea. It marked the end of a year-long exploration of family diaspora and displaced cultural identities in Taiwan, China and Malaysia. The photographs were collected as a passenger aboard the ALMAVIVA container ship from Port Kelang, Malaysia, through the Suez Canal, across the Mediterranean and Atlantic to the Port of Halifax, Nova Scotia.


Inside a familiar piece of Vancouver’s identity as a major port city, If We Were the Sea asks us to reflect on our own resilience, what ultimately sustains us, and how we navigate the hidden dependencies in our changing environment.


Weaving together recordings, maps and other objects collected along the way, If We Were the Sea, examines the complexity and fragility of the sea that both connects and divides us. The exhibit explores the environment aboard the hundred-thousand-ton freighter and the experiences of its thirty crew members as they make their passage across invisible time zones, navigating the demands between camaraderie and interdependence, expansiveness and isolation.



April 1-30, 2018 (extended to May 10th)

Viewable 24/7, Interactive on Fridays 12-5pm 

320 Carrall St, Vancouver, BC, Canada 
49° 16' 55'' N 123° 6' 16'' W
Unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) & səl̓il̓wətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Territories


Part of the Capture Photography Festival 

Leaving Port Kelang, Malaysia

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Kejora Sutra tug, 4000 horsepower, pushing the ship out to sea

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Westport cranes disappearing into the distance

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334 metres long and 42.8 metres wide at its widest point 

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Leaving the Malacca Strait towards the Adaman Sea, Banda Aceh in the distance
Banda Aceh, on the tip of Sumatra, Indonesia, endured the worst of the massive tsunami in 2004.

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Radar at the bow of the ship

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Anchor hold

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'Welcome to Egypt'

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One by one through Suez Canal

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Fishing, Suez Canal

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Suez Canal through El Quantara

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Suez Canal, passing under the Al Salam Bridge
Built in 1995, it is also known as the Egyptian-Japanese Friendship Bridge and the Mubarak Peace Bridge.

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Passenger ship crossing the canal

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Pause

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Pilot exiting on the gangway, awaiting pick up, Port Said, Egypt

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Lashing rods, turnbuckles and twist-locks secure the containers to the ship structure

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China Shipping

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Sunset

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Machinery Space

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Rounds

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Point of Break

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Loaded, bringing goods from Asia to US and Canadian ports

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Atlantic

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La passerelle

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Approaching the Port of Halifax

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The Atlantic Oak tug pushes the ship into the Halifax port

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Nestled under cranes at the Port of Halifax

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Thank you to the crew of the CMA-CGM ALMAVIVA for their kindness, and their openness to having a peculiar passenger roam, curious and keen to learn. 


Thank you to Hamish Jamieson in New Zealand for answering all of my questions about travelling by freight ship.


Thank you to Alex and Kris of the BC Marine Employers Association for lending the container lashing materials used in the installation.


Thank you.


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This series was collected on six rolls of black and white film graciously tracked down in Kuala Lumpur in the weeks before boarding the ship. If you ever find yourself in KL, Bang Bang Geng is a gem of a shop supporting analog photography in the city.

Using Format