Release of 19.02.2020

Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation

TBA21–Academy presents an in-depth research of the Anthropocene Ocean with Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation exhibition at Ocean Space, Venice
Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation commissioned by TBA21–Academy.

Multi-year analysis of changes and occurrence of water in the Pampanga Estuary overlaid with scenarios corresponding to sea level rise.

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“Solutions for viable oceans are available: we need to keep oil in the ground; recognise and respect the multiplicity of life forms in the oceans; let it be and, when necessary, restore its ecologies. What needs to be developed is a new imaginary.”
—Territorial Agency

The world oceans are in crisis. The extraordinary scope and magnitude of ocean transformations are only beginning to be understood. The oceans are threatened by human activity through overfishing, deep-sea mining, and other forms of pollution and extraction, changing its circulation, energies and ecologies. Reassessing the connections between land and sea, Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation synthesises three years of intersectional research, commissioned by TBA21–Academy, to unfold one of the most extensive readings of the Anthropocene Ocean to date.  

Oceans in Transformation re-assembles scattered knowledge about the oceans along complex geographical trajectories, using new methods of visualisation. Following spatial trajectories, the visualised data is displayed on large screens inviting viewers to trace the impact of human activities on the oceanic system. Oceans in Transformation aims to find different forms of collaboration to bring together things that we imagine are apart. Vital components of the sensible Earth system, increasingly modified by global heating, are recorded in textured scenarios, coupling–for example–the greening of the African desert with the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. The research project indicates how we need to imagine the oceans as a principal component of a living planet, limit human activity—fishing, transport and extraction—in the high seas, and repristinate marine environments. Solutions to face this threat are known: what is missing is the imagination to act. 

Oceans in Transformation’s dynamic visualisations are open-ended compositions reconnecting land and sea in a continuum. They show a potential history in the making without assuming it. They record transformations while resisting to present these transfigurations as calculative and exploitable information,” writes Daniela Zyman, curator of the exhibition. 

The exhibition will inaugurate the second season at Ocean Space, a recently opened forum for art, research, ocean literacy and advocacy in Venice. This new centre continues to operate in the aftermath of the acqua alta – the highest tide levels in more than half a century. Addressing the changing habitats directly on the transforming waterline, sea level rise projections based on reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will be visualised throughout the exhibition as well as on the facade of Ocean Space.

The collaborative process of TBA21–Academy and Territorial Agency

TBA21–Academy and Territorial Agency have collaborated with a network of researchers and institutions to present an exhibition informed by contemporary science, policy, culture and art. Expanding upon the research, TBA21–Academy has launched an Ocean Fellowship programme at Ocean Space for the duration of the exhibition to offer students an opportunity to investigate material gathered around the Anthropocene oceans and develop their own ocean-centric research. The Fellows will build onto the presented research and mediate the exhibition to the public. 

In the course of their collaboration, TBA21–Academy and Territorial Agency have developed a format for transdisciplinary peer-to-peer gatherings entitled Messy Studios, which will form an integral part of the Academy’s programming at Ocean Space. Messy Studios echo the non-linear approach often found in artistic practices and offer an opportunity for diverse practices to combine and show possible new pathways for climate change solutions. These events have been held in collaboration with other leading institutions such as the Institute of Marine Science in Venice, MIT Media Lab, and the Royal Academy of Arts in London. 

– ENDS –

Notes to Editors

For further information and images, please contact Scott & Co:

Phoebe Thomas or Charlotte Wittesaele

Exhibition dates: 

March 22 - September 27, 2020


Ocean Space

Church of San Lorenzo

Campo San Lorenzo, Castello 5069, 30122 Venice, Italy

About TBA21–Academy:

TBA21–Academy is a cultural organisation investigating environmental injustice against the ocean through the lens of art. The Academy instigates intersectional and collaborative research, artistic production and new forms of knowledge, resulting in commissions, exhibitions and pedagogic programmes. Commissioning and producing research-led projects for nearly a decade, TBA21–Academy has grown an extensive network of ocean practitioners and experts from the fields of science, policy, law, big data and indigenous scholarship. 

About Ocean Space:

Located in the Church of San Lorenzo in Venice, Ocean Space opened in March of 2019 as a new planetary centre for catalysing ocean literacy, research and advocacy through the arts. Established and led by TBA21–Academy and building on its expansive work over the past nine years, this new embassy for the oceans fosters engagement and collective action on the most pressing issues facing the oceans today. In 2019, Ocean Space exhibited Joan Jonas’s Moving Off the Land II and will reopen following a period of refurbishment with Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation. The recent opening of the platform highlights the need for a deeper understanding of the city’s complex relationship with the ocean.

About Territorial Agency:

John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog are architects and urbanists. They established Territorial Agency, an independent organisation that combines architecture, analysis, advocacy and action for integrated spatial transformation of contemporary territories. Territorial Agency is engaged to strengthen the capacity of local and international communities in comprehensive spatial transformation in an age of climate change—the Anthropocene. Recent projects include Museum of Oil with Greenpeace, ZKM Karlsruhe, and the Chicago Architecture Biennial; Anthropocene Observatory with HKW Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin; the Museum of Infrastructural Unconscious; North; Unfinishable Markermeer; Kiruna. They teach at the AA Architectural Association School of Architecture, London.

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Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation commissioned by TBA21–Academy.
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Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation. Commissioned by TBA21–Academy.
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Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation commissioned by TBA21–Academy.
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Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation commissioned by TBA21–Academy.
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Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation commissioned by TBA21–Academy. (. jpg )

Multi-year analysis of changes and occurrence of water in the Pampanga Estuary overlaid with scenarios corresponding to sea level rise.

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