These last breaths
chromogenic prints, frames treated with Persian Gulf seawater
diptych 30x40 cm ea.
In 1954 a company that would later become British Petroleum, commissioned a young Jacques Cousteau to undertake an oceanographic survey of the Persian Gulf on his now famous ship, the Calypso. This was made possible in part due to Cousteau's co-development of the Aqua Lung underwater breathing apparatus. This device allowed divers to go underwater for longer and affect the underwater world in more direct and radical ways. As Cousteau's career progressed, he became a vocal conservationist. However, the survey of 1954 was instrumental in the discovery of oil and its irreversible changes to both the region and the world. In 2018, Whelan travelled to a series of coordinates from Cousteau's survey. With a dive team he conducted his own visual surveys of the sea bed. During these surveys, images were made of the air expelled by the divers, taken only seconds apart. Just after these breaths were captured, a water sample was taken from the same place. The framed work was then treated with this historically charged water, leaving only salt traces in the faded wood.