Stephen Dare: Matt, how do we describe you and your work?
"I’m on my way to Wakatobi National Park, a protected chain of islands and coral reef in the outer reaches of Indonesia. Wakatobi is home to the world’s second largest barrier reef, after Australia’s, but unless you’re a diving enthusiast or work in marine conservation you’ve probably never heard of it.
Anthropologist Kelli Swazey and I are going to make a film with local Bajau friends in their village above the sea.
What they’re saying about the ways that climate change and land-centric politics are affecting their lives will make you wonder why Nat Geo and the BBC never just let the Bajau speak for themselves.
The Bajau people of Southeast Asia are famous for their seafaring way of life and almost superhuman free diving abilities. A National Geographic article about the size of their spleens—an evolutionary adaption to lives spent in the water—went viral earlier this year. But the Bajau people are so much more than what initially meets the eyes and lens. The insight they’ve evolved as people of the sea is at least as interesting as the size of their spleens. And what they’re saying about the ways that climate change and land-centric politics are affecting their lives will make you wonder why Nat Geo and the BBC never just let the Bajau speak for themselves.
Since 2011, I’ve been bringing groups of students to Wakatobi to live with and learn from families in a Bajau village called Sampela. Let me be clear: these are not mission trips. My relationship with my Bajau colleagues is about learning and cultural exchange. Over time, I made friends in the community and began to visit without students. Now, I count some of my friends in Sampela among my closest.
Kelli and I will be working with Bajau couple Andar and Saipa to make a short documentary in which they and their neighbors in Sampela speak for themselves. Their stories of life in close contact with the world’s troubled seas need to be heard. What they say will have implications for us all."
Matt Colaciello is on a journey around the world from his Floridian hometown in the United States. He is visiting some of the most exotic and environmentally dependent communities in the world and in the process allowing us to tag along via a set of travelogue posts.
The Colaciello family is a well established node in the cultural lodestone of New York City, Bob Colacello, his uncle was the editor of Interview Magazine throughout the 80s and a long time special correspondent for Vanity Fair. In fact, just recently, Bob Colaciello made news when he claimed authoritatively that Andy would be dating Kim Kardashian in 2018.
Matt has chosen a wholly different path and in the process created his own wake in the global community of social observers of both climate change and cultural exchanges.
We are wildly honored to be a part of this latest travelogue project.