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Lost Species Day 2021: Vigil for the Smooth Handfish

28 November 2021
6:00 pm
9:30 pm

A space for a digital congregation to contemplate loss, grief, the parameters of care, the interconnectedness of conservation and radical hope, and “collaborative survival”.

Featuring 27 unique contributions from individuals and communities across the globe including scholar, environmental activist and food sovereignty advocate, Dr Vandana Shiva; Aboriginal Australian writer and scholar, Bruce Pascoe; Palestinian artist and conservationist, Vivien Sansour and Canadian cellist Zöe Keating.

The Vigil will be followed by a live conversation facilitated by Fleur Ramsay, Special Counsel – International Program and Chair of the First Nations and Indigenous Peoples Program Working Group, Environmental Defenders Office with: First Nations storyteller and activist, Chris Bonney;  Palestinian artist and conservationist, Vivien Sansour; grief worker and somatic educator Camille Barton; Vigil for the Smooth Handfish Artistic Director, Daz Chandler.

Please visit for more information.

instructions TO JOIN THE EVENT

Info to participate in the Vigil for the Smooth Handfish and the live conversation “How Do Grief, Ritual and Creativity Serve the Climate Crisis?” – both of which are taking place today on Sunday, November 28, 2021 between 6pm and 9.30pm (GMT):
*VIGIL 18:00 – 20:30 (GMT)
From 6pm (GMT), join the Vigil for the Smooth Handfish – featuring 27 unique and thoughtful contributions from individuals and communities from around the world. Join the Vigil for the Smooth Handfish live from 6pm on YouTube here:
For your convenience, The Vigil will also be streamed on @TheParallelEffect, @ONCAarts and @LostSpeciesDay Facebook and Instagram channels.
“How Do Grief, Ritual and Creativity serve the Climate Crisis?”
From 8.30pm –  immediately following The Vigil presentation – join some of The Vigil’s contributing artists for a live panel conversation exploring how grief, ritual, creativity and beauty may serve the Climate Crisis?”
Please click the link below to join the webinar:
Passcode: 024483

About the congregation

The Smooth Handfish – a sea dweller with bulging eyes, a distinctive fin on its head, and hand-like fins that allowed it to walk on the seabed – was once so plentiful in the Tasman region, it was one of the first fish species to be documented in ‘Australia’. In July last year, it was declared extinct. What is known of its collective story – within the limits of human cognition of its existence and loss – feels relevant to where we find ourselves today.

For many people, the last two years in particular, have given multiple pauses to rethink the question, ‘What does it take to survive?’ These are difficult times in the midst of multiple crises, with profound losses occurring each day. The frantic pace of the world and the type of systems that much of humankind are expected to navigate, has meant that over the years many important personal and communal rituals have been misplaced or usurped. Spaces for meaningful philosophical discourse have been lost – as well as spaces for connection with living companions – human, non-human, across earth, ocean, freshwater, ice…

To reckon with this, The Parallel Effect – a collective of creators and thinkers – have curated a Vigil for the Smooth Handfish. Our intention is to provide a space for congregation, to contemplate loss, grief, the parameters of care, the interconnectedness of conservation and radical hope, and “collaborative survival”.

This pre-recorded two and half hour congregation, first shared in November 2020, features 27 unique contributions by renowned artists, musicians, scholars, scientists and First Nations speakers from communities across the globe including ‘Australia’, India, US, UK, Germany, Morocco, Syria, Afghanistan and Palestine. Contributions take on a multiplicity of forms: music, spoken word, performance, animation, academic papers and video essays. Many have been developed collaboratively between contributors, as the Vigil creates a space to foster reflexive interdisciplinary multimodal works at the nexus of art, politics, science and geography.

Each contributor has been given the freedom to remember and respond to the loss of the Smooth Handfish however they wish.

Australian First Nations man, Chris Bonney, shares a 130,000 year old Ngarrindjeri Dreaming story about sustainability; biological anthropologist, Dr Barbara J. King presents some of her research documenting grief and bereavement across the animal kingdom; filmmaker Benjamin Gilmour confronts the parameters of care; and Afghan artist Kabir Mokamel — joining us from his home in Kabul — articulates the relationship between time and daily tragedy in a war-zone.

As each uniquely mourns the loss of the Smooth Handfish, in communion they offer a collective expression and reflection of grief and survival in an increasingly complex, and often far too difficult, world.


Vigil for the Smooth Handfish will be streamed via YouTube Live. Unfortunately due to limited resources, it is conducted in the English language only. The event is captioned and transcripts are available upon request.

The post-Vigil conversation will be hosted on Zoom – a webinar link will be sent shortly beforehand. It will be recorded, transcribed and shared online afterwards. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your access needs, please contact .

If possible, we invite you to make a donation when you reserve your space at this event. Money raised through the Lost Species Day 2021 online programme will go to Pacific Warriors and the SustyVibes fund for climate anxiety in Africa.

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