Shark Love

21 September 2010

It’s rare enough to see the words ‘shark’ and ‘love’ together in the same sentence, let alone in the title of an art exhibition. Ironically, love is perhaps just what Earth’s most demonised ocean-dweller is in urgent need of. Each year, humans slaughter on average 73 million sharks, predominantly for the use of their fins – which distressingly end up in lavish Chinese soup bowls across the globe.

Not only are statistics horrifying, so are the methods through which sharks are caught and killed. A majority of these 73 million are caught alive, hauled onto fishing boats and have their fins sliced off. The live, limbless animals are tossed back into the sea with no means to swim. Thus, they drown.

Thanks to practices like these, declines in shark populations by as much to 70 – 80% have been reported globally. Such a significant change in shark population problematically impacts the delicate balance of the sea because of their role at the upper links of the food chain.

While humans massacre tens of millions of sharks annually, sharks kill just four humans on average in the same time period. Media sensationalism – as well as Hollywood’s hogwash – contributes to our lack of compassion for sharks. Compared to the conservation efforts dedicated to the preservation of whales and dolphins, the efforts directed towards the sustenance of sharks is insubstantial. Enter PangeaSeed and Shark Love.

PangeaSeed is a Tokyo based ocean conservation organisation which focuses on the desperate plight of sharks. This grassroots organisation uses open dialogues with the global community to develop an understanding of the importance in preserving and protecting sharks and shark habitats. They are funded by art exhibitions and events, which are enabled through volunteer artists and activists contributing across a variety of mediums, including design, music, film and photography.

Shortly after its birth in early 2009, PangeaSeed organised No Fin, No Future, Japan’s first shark-focused, art exhibition and fundraiser. The exhibition received support from some of the most renowned contemporary artists; among the many artists donating their original, shark-themed works were Mr. Brainwash, Kozyndan, Dave Kinsey and Yoh Nagao

This past August, PangeaSeed did it again with Shark Love. 34 internationally acclaimed artists from Japan and across the globe came together in one small gallery located one hour south of Tokyo, and the roll call was just as impressive as last year’s event. Skateboard graphic legend Jim Phillips stepped up to the cause, remodeling his 1970s classic The Camel with a classy PangeaSeed script for the show. This potently symbolic image retains the impact that led to its popular interpretation as a prophecy of dire times. The Camel is printed using silver silkscreen on black paper, and portrays a masked figure and limp body riding a camel. An assortment of auspicious animals and objects surround the riders, including a polar bear, an upside-down wasp, an airliner, and coincidentally, a shark.

Other works of interest included a three-piece series made by Colorado-based artist John Fellows. These lino cut sharks were printed on envelopes originating from Japan that date back to the 1940s. Australian graffiti artist and the brains behind King Brown magazine, The Yok, created a one-off skateboard deck, depicting a skull-faced man dining from the seas. Fellow Australian, Pat Fox also used the skateboard as a medium. Fox laser-cut a simultaneously elegant and eerie image of a woman who maternally hovers over a scale that balances a shark fin and a globe.

Artists from New Zealand’s and Cut Collective portrayed unique, clever commentaries on the Finning issue in a mixture of mediums, from stencil to digital print. Local Japanese artists George Hayashi, Yoh Nagao, Koji Harmon, AkanorI Oishi, Natsuki Wakita and Wrecks created colourful, quirky pieces, illuminating the small space and portraying sharks in a brighter, less monstrous light.

The piece that stood out to me most from the collection of pieces at Shark Love was Haroshi’s The Shark Coffin. This piece was constructed from recycled skate decks which had been sanded and glued in the shape of a life size, three-dimensional hammerhead shark. Encased inside the cacophony of wood pieces was a complete, vintage Christian Hosoi hammerhead skateboard, complete with Slimeball wheels and Gullwing trucks. A hammerhead inside a hammerhead – hence its title The Shark Coffin.

Shark Love ran for one week and received hundreds of visitors who received equal doses of fine art and uncomfortable truths – the most obvious truth being that sharks, when portrayed in an unprejudiced light, are beautiful animals that deserve our respect.

Much of the art displayed at Shark Love can be viewed and purchased at For a limited time PangeaSeed is also offering limited 2010 model Arbor Snow and Skateboards for a fraction of there retail value.

For more pics, upcoming events and further information on PangeaSeed please check out these links:!/PangeaSeed

So, what do you think about all this?