TBA21–Academy  presents an extensive research project visualizing the impact of human activity on the Oceans by architects Territorial Agency

Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation commissioned by TBA21–Academy.
Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation, commissioned by TBA21–Academy. The East coast of Greenland, ESA Sentinel Data elaborated by Territorial Agency.
  • TBA21–Academy to launch the presentation of Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation on the digital platform Ocean Archive, accompanied by a range of multidisciplinary online programming from 20–23 May 2020. 
  • To mark the launch and the re-opening of Venice to its residents, TBA21–Academy will unveil a light installation indicating rising sea level on the façade of their Venetian hub Ocean Space. 
  • The physical edition of the exhibition, Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation, is scheduled to follow at the end of August 2020 at Ocean Space. 

The new commission Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation investigates the effects of human activity on the Oceans. The world’s hydrosphere is rapidly transitioning to the unprecedented and incalculable conditions of the Anthropocene – the current geological epoch, defined by abrupt environmental changes resulting from human interferences in the Earth system. Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation is the result of a long-term research project by the architects Territorial Agency led by John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog, commissioned by TBA21–Academy. It reflects TBA21–Academy’s long-standing practice of mobilizing art and science to promote ocean advocacy, literacy, and action. 

The research project, curated by Daniela Zyman and hosted by the organization’s open-access digital platform Ocean Archive, will be accompanied by a rich program of initiatives including conversations, lectures, screenings, and performances by artists, scientists, philosophers and musicians including Nancy Knowlton, Shaul Bassi, Jeremy Jackson, Jan Zalasziewicz and many others. The program will launch on May 20 with a series of online events until May 23. Following the launch, TBA21–Academy will then release separate periodic programming until the end of July. 

To mark this moment offline and welcome the reawakening of Venice, a light installation on the façade of Ocean Space will be unveiled on May 19 to call attention to the latest predictive models of sea-level rise. A yellow LED horizon marks the possible future sea level by the end of the 21st century, and at the same time signals that there is still time to implement drastic measures to prevent the indicated outcome.

The online edition of Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation will be followed by a physical exhibition at Ocean Space, Venice, scheduled to open on August 27, 2020. 

Territorial Agency's dynamic images of complex Earth Observation datasets of Oceans in Transformation make accessible the investigation into the relationship between natural and cultural phenomena, unveiling the complex entanglements of the Earth system. Territorial Agency describe the ocean as a sensorium, a body that registers every impression made; positive and negative. "The ocean also registers back its complex dynamics into other components of the Earth's complex systems. The rise of the Anthropocene cuts through long-established relations, mixes and dissolves elements, multiplying and scattering spaces," state Territorial Agency. 

The research project Oceans in Transformation is organized through seven trajectories that trace the interconnections of environmental and economic processes across the planet. These seven trajectories will be released every ten days on the Ocean Archive over the course of three months and expanded by a series of essays co-edited in collaboration with E-flux Architecture, and further enriched through additional research by a trans-disciplinary group of researchers taking part in TBA21–Academy's Ocean Fellowship program. The fellowship program, launched earlier this year, hosts scholars, artists, and researchers from across disciplines to convene for a short but intense period of co-research and development on Oceanic topics, guided by two mentors; writer and independent curator Barbara Casavechia and critical geographer Louise Carver. 

The first trajectory, entitled North Sea to Red Sea, will be released on Wednesday, May 20 at 5 pm CET. North Sea to Red Sea traces the transformation of the oceans along the European coast and connects the cosmopolitical worlds of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Aden. This will be accompanied by two Messy Studio sessions - TBA21–Academy and Territorial Agency’s discussion platform - entitled Acqua Alta – The Rising Waters, on May 20 and May 21 at 6 pm CET. The discussions will address the devastating flood in Venice in November 2019, its consequences for the city and the context of this threat on a global scale. Territorial Agency will be in conversation with guests, such as coral reef biologist Nancy Knowlton, environmental scientist Jane Da Mosto (We Are Here Venice), Georg Umgiesser (ISMAR-CNR) and Humanities and Social Change scholar Shaul Bassi (Ca’ Foscari University Venice). 

In tandem with the programming, the collective sound project freq_wave - the seven seas, curated by Carl Michael von Hausswolff, invites 84 sound artists to create interactive sound pieces, loosely based on Oceans in Transformations’ seven trajectories. The participating artists - including Ryoji Ikeda, Lary 7, Tim Story, Anna von Hausswolf, Dark Morph, Soundwalk Collective -  will be divided into seven groups of twelve, with each group focusing on an assigned geographical trajectory as defined by territorial Agency. This project will provide an audio narrative of the ocean’s transformative processes, showing that humanity’s contribution (or pollution) is an integral part of ocean transformation. 


Notes to Editors

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

Scott & Co 

Charlotte Wittesaele, charlotte@scott-andco.com

+44 (0)20 3487 0077


The program will be live-streamed at ocean-archive.org and through TBA21–Academy and Ocean Space Facebook Live.  


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 programs. 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 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 anon; Unfinishable Markermeer; Kiruna. They teach at the AA Architectural Association School of Architecture, London. 

About Ocean Archive:

Ocean Archive is a digital platform in the making; an archive and framework for collaborative research. It brings together the multitude of voices and stories around the Ocean and connects those striving to nurture and protect it. Designed as a storytelling and pedagogical tool, the Archive translates current knowledge about the Ocean into shared language that enables us to make better decisions for urgently needed policies. Created to stimulate action and systemic change, Ocean Archive fosters synergy among art, science, policy and conservation to make a range of perspectives visible, discoverable and understandable.

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.