Ephemeral Coast: Visualizing Coastal Climate Change

Celina Jeffery (Ed.)

by Diana Heise (Kansas City Art Institute), Catherine Bonier (Carleton University), Celina Jeffery (University of Ottawa), Belinda Du Plooy (Nelson Mandela University), Anna Paluch (Carleton University), Sherena Razek (Brown University), Jakub Zdebik (University of Ottawa), Ian Buchanan (University of Wollongong), Andrea Hurst (Nelson Mandela University, South Africa)

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"Ephemeral Coast: Visualizing Coastal Climate Change" is a significant contribution to the Blue Humanities and to Contemporary Ecocritical Art History and criticism, offering a text that is readable and accessible to a wide audience, incorporating clear discussions and integrations of contemporary art practices, ecocritical theory, and environmental science and journalism. Chapters incorporate important voices in the decolonial environmental humanities and a global range of artists, theorists, sites, and specific projects. Throughout the text there is a conscious centering of Indigenous histories, critics and makers. Many urgent themes carry across its chapters such as commitment to ephemeral statuses of land and sea; contemporary relational research models and modes of visualization; the significance of effective storytelling; contentious extractive claims to shorelines, bodies of water and ice; environmental and social justice activism, indigenous ecologies and Land relationships and the agency of artists’ creative imaginations and visualizations. Ephemeral Coast is an ideal text for an art and ecology or environmental humanities course and a very lucid argument for the agency of the Blue Humanities.

Prof. Maura Coughlin
Department of Art + Design
Northeastern University

'Ephemeral Coast: Visualizing Coastal Climate Change' considers the ways that art can offer a means through which to discover, analyze, re-imagine and re-frame emotive discourses about the ecological and cultural transformations of the coastline. This edited anthology takes ephemerality as its central conceptual and methodological framework and presents a series of essays that create interconnections between environmental and social considerations of the coast, a succession of embodied creative practices, and shifting regional geographic identities. The book presents a series of specific case studies of artistic practices and strategies that seek to capture the rewriting of cartographic maps that are being reshaped by rising seas, coastal flooding and catastrophic weather. The essays in this edited volume engender creative strategies for understanding new and uncertain coastal ecologies and the loss, expulsion or destruction of their associated cultures, habitats, species and ecosystems. The anthology also looks at the historical, mnemonic and contemporary transitional conditions of ‘conflicted’ coastal spaces in which empire, modernity and globalization press on coastal erosion and incursions, proliferate it with trivial plastics, pollution and disposable attitudes, and bring vulnerable communities into uncertain futures.

List of Figures


Foreword by David Rothenberg

Celina Jeffery
University of Ottawa

I. The Sea We Make
Diana Heise
Kansas City Art Institute

II. Mapping Arctic Shores: Visual Stories of Entangled Histories
Celina Jeffery
University of Ottawa

III. From Sea to Source: A Pilgrimage along the Water’s Edges
Andrea Hurst
Nelson Mandela University, South Africa
Belinda Du Plooy
Nelson Mandela University, South Africa

IV. The Baltic Waterways: Mapping Cross-Cultural and Ecological Awareness of the Baltic Sea
Anna Paluch
Carleton University

V. Woven Imaginations: Stories of fluidity and fixity in coastal Louisiana
Catherine Bonier
Carleton University

VI. From Ongoing Nakba to a Palestinian Hydro-commons: Reading the Jordan River and the Dead Sea as Ecopolitical Refusal
Sherena Razek
Brown University

VII. Three Lines in Space: The Aesthetics of Data Visualization of Sea-level Rise in the Research-based Artworks of Andrea Polli, Timo Aho and Pekka Niittyvirta, and Paul Maher
Jakub Zdebik
University of Ottawa

VIII. The Ocean Behind Glass
Ian Buchanan
University of Wollongong



Celina Jeffery is an Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Ottawa, Canada. Recent publications include Ephemeral Coast (2015), The Artist as Curator (2015), the ‘Junk Ocean’ issue of Drain: A Journal of Contemporary Art and Culture (January 2016) and the ‘Towards a Blue Humanity’ issue of Symploke (2019), co-edited with Ian Buchanan. She is the founder of Ephemeral Coast, a SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) funded, curatorial research project (2015–2019). She has curated exhibitions internationally which explore the visual cultures of climate change.

Contemporary Art, design, Anthropocene, climate change, sea-rise level, Arctic, Blue Humanities, decolonization, ecologies, Indigenous, slow violence, Deleuze, new materialism

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Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Ephemeral Coast: Visualizing Coastal Climate Change





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm


20 Color

Publication date

August 2022