Benera and Estefan
The Equitable Principle, 2012-ongoing
mixed-media installation: performance recorded on video (HD video, 05 min., 07 sec., sound), MDF board, string, wall paint, wall lettering
variable dimensions

"Anca Benera and Arnold Estefan enacted a performative restitution which emerged from the legal approach to the settlement of maritime boundaries and the economic interests underlying the dispute over Insula Șerpilor (Snake Island). Located in the Black Sea, the island had a complex history of repossessions between the Ottoman Empire, Romania, the Soviet Union, and, lastly, Ukraine. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Snake Island became the subject of a major territorial dispute resulting in a political deadlock between Romania and Ukraine. In 2009, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ruled out a new maritime boundary in the Black Sea, deciding on a provisional equidistant line drawn between the two states. The principle of a pillar of delimitation in territorial waters implies drawing a line that extends halfway between the coastlines of two countries opposite or adjacent to each other. ICJ did not take Snake Island as a benchmark in delimiting the maritime boundary despite Ukraine’s claims that the territory was a full-fledged island, part of its coastal configuration. As a result, Romania received around 80% of the disputed terrain and the rights to its natural gas and oil reserves. Against the Roman ancient law, Nemo dat quod non habet, the rights to energy resources had been sold off to multinational companies even prior to the court decision.

In the winter of 2012, Benera and Estefan cut out a 0.509-square-meter snow block from the ice-covered area of the Black Sea. The size represented the equivalent surface-unit that each Romanian national would have received, had the territory been divided per capita. Likewise, they are planning to bring 0.892 square-meter of soil from Snake Island to Bucharest, the equivalent of the surface unit each Romanian citizen would have received had the land area been divided per capita. The artists are pointedly questioning what is at stake for the everyday citizen in a dispute with major geopolitical and economic implications."

text by Anca Rujoiu

additional info HERE                                                                   

Snake Island (Greek Φιδονήσι Fidonísi), also known as Serpent Island
(Romanian: Insula Șerpilor, Ukrainian: Зміїний, Russian: Змеиный),
is an island located in the Black Sea, near the Danube Delta.
The islet was part of border disputes between Romania and Ukraine in 2004–2009,
during which Romania contested the technical definition of the island and borders around it.
The territorial limits of the continental shelf around Snake Island were delineated by
the International Court of Justice in 2009.