26 March 2022

Cultures in Conversation

The Silencing of Water


Starts 5:00 pm

Ends 8:00 pm

Venue Off-Site


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Cultural connections and knowledge were forged through maritime trade over centuries, shaping our cultural identities and belief systems. Water has symbolised freedom and exploration through tales of adventure, or it has represented the wrath of nature through shifting rivers, drowning bodies and historic floods. As much of the planet faces water scarcity and damage to marine ecosystems, what can we learn from the respect that our ancestors had for the elixir of life? How does the past connect with the water crises and water conflicts we face today?

Location : Terra Auditorium, Sustainability District, Expo 2020

- Opening Remarks Nadia Verjee and by Vilma Jurkute
- Introduction by Nada Raza
- Film by Himali Singh Soin
- Talk by Vikrom Mathur, followed by Q&A
- Lecture-Performance by Shahana Rajani and Jeanne Lassus
- Talk followed by music of Minarets by Boom.Diwan
- Talk by Aaron Lobo
- Gastronomic Experience at Brazil Pavilion by Aaron Lobo


Dr. Aaron Savio Lobo

Aaron is a naturalist at heart, a marine conservation scientist by training and gourmet by aspiration. That said, he tends to see the world through two lenses – Nature and Food. What we eat, where it comes from, who produced it, at what cost, and most importantly, how to eat and feed the planet sustainably, are questions that tend to keep him occupied. Considering that the oceans cover over 70% of the Earth and given his background @meenscientist (meen = fish in Tamil, Malayalam, Bengali), this lens, is more often than not a “Fisheye” lens.

He completed his PhD from the University of Cambridge where he was a Gates scholar. He has since worked at the interface of conservation and development in Asia and W. Africa. He is currently senior advisor to the Wildlife Conservation Society, where he provides strategic technical advice to their marine program in India. He is a member of the IUCN SSC Marine Conservation Committee. This is a global committee of experts that aims to ensure that decisions taken by policy-makers and resource managers on the management of marine resources are based on sound and scientific knowledge.

Himali Singh Soin

Himali Singh Soin (b. New Delhi, lives between London and New Delhi)’s multi-disciplinary work uses metaphors from the natural environment to construct speculative cosmologies that reveal non-linear entanglements between human and non-human life. Her poetic methodology explores the myriad technologies of knowing, from scientific to intuitional, indigenous and alchemical processes.

Soin's art has been shown at Khoj (Delhi), Mimosa House, Serpentine Gallery (London), Gropius Bau, (Berlin),Anchorage museum (Alaska), the Dhaka Art Summit and the Shanghai Biennale among others. She was the recipient of the Frieze Artist Award 2019. A solo exhibition of her work will open at The Art Institute of Chicago in December 2022.

Dr. Vikrom Mathur

Vikrom is the Founding Director of Transitions Research, Goa. He has over 20 years of international experience in multidisciplinary research and policy analysis at the interface of technology, society and sustainability. His research explores the role of human choice and societal decision making in the face of normative and scientific uncertainty in relation to climate change, human settlements and emerging technologies.

He received his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Oxford University’s Institute for Science, Society and Innovation. His research focused on institutional frameworks for climate adaptation decision-making around the Tonle Sap Lake in the Mekong River Basin. Vikrom is Senior Fellow of the Observer Research Foundation, India; Senior Research Fellow of the Centre for Social and Behavioural Change (CSBC), Ashoka University; and Affiliated Researcher of the Stockholm Environment Institute.

Dr. Ghazi Faisal Al-Mulaifi

Ghazi Faisal Al-Mulaifi, PhD (b. 1977) is musician, applied-ethnomusicologist and professor of music who earned his Doctorate of Philosophy in Music from New York University (2015). Al-Mulaifi is also a Venice Biennale artist, composer, global jazz musician, and founder of Boom.Diwan. His research interests include: Kuwaiti pearl diving music, global jazz, . His current musical efforts include leading his ensemble Boom.Diwan; where he and traditional Kuwaiti musicians dialog Kuwaiti bahri (sea) music with global jazz traditions for the purpose of creating a new Kuwaiti music that revives a musical tradition of dialog and exchange.

So, what is Cultures in Conversation?

Commissioned from Alserkal by Expo2020, Cultures in Conversation consists of ten theme weeks of events and interventions that challenge the typical ‘talks’ format. Multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural, the programme unites people who are normally unlikely to even be in the same room—poets, diplomats, theorists, artists, environmental agents of change, academics. Part of Expo’s wider series entitled Programme for People and Planet (PPP),Cultures in Conversation is less about global leaders owning top-down conversation, and more an opportunity for diverse people from around the world to unite, take ownership of a programme, and re-think global issues that have become excruciatingly urgent.

You can also read the entries of our Cultures in Conversation blog here, written by Govind Dhar

Dr. Aaron Savio Lobo

Himali Singh Soin

Dr. Vikrom Mathur

Dr. Ghazi Faisal Al-Mulaifi