Coinciding with the launch of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, TBA21–Academy in collaboration with CNR-ISMAR (Istituto di Scienze Marine , Riva dei Sette Martiri 1364) presents an investigative exhibition by the filmmaker and photographer Armin Linke exploring contemporary challenges facing our oceans. Drawing upon rare footage of the deep-sea and interviews with leading scientists, policymakers, and legal experts, the exhibition scrutinizes the aesthetics of technoscientific apparatuses and grapples with the tension between ecological protection of our oceans and political and economic exploitation.
Marking the culmination of a three-year research project with TBA21–Academy, Linke’s “Prospecting Ocean” presents a rich choreography of multimedia footage and archival materials exhibited in the former headquarters and laboratory spaces of the Institute of Marine Sciences (CNR-ISMAR), including several multi-channel video installations and a new series of photographs. A montage of rarely seen images of the ocean floor—captured by remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROV) at a depth of up to 5,000 meters—visually juxtaposes the “natural” seabed with the machinery used to extract resources such as deep-sea minerals. Legally defined as common heritage of humankind, these so-called resources have formed over millions of years; deep-sea vents are considered the location of the origin of life. From highly detached images of machinery and ostensibly clinical incisions in the seabed to assemblies at the UN and infrastructural apparatuses, Linke exposes submarine sites that are commonly invisible and accesses the meetings of decision makers that are usually closed off to the public. Scrutinizing the institutions administrating the seabed, Linke deconstructs the idea of a marine-based blue economy and policy commonly supported by governments.
At CNR-ISMAR, the footage filmed by Linke and his team is presented alongside behind-the-scenes interviews of leading biologists, geologists, and policymakers, as well as footage of activist movements in Papua New Guinea, inviting the viewer to consider the implications of deep-sea mining and other excavations on both the environment and communities. Linke lays bare an intricate network of dynamics, dissecting how information is negotiated between scientific, legal, and economic entities and institutions, on both local and international levels.
“Prospecting Ocean“ also features a selection of primary documents and books from the CNR-ISMAR historical library selected by the institute’s scientists and critical texts analyzing the legal, political, and economic infrastructures presiding over the allocation of ocean resources. Taken together, the project scrutinizes the administration of the oceans and exposes the simultaneous fascination with and alienation from technologies that map, visualize, and exploit resources in the sea.
Thursday and Friday, May 24 and 25, 3 – 6pm
“Prospecting Ocean” is being activated during its inaugural week with a series of public programs and roundtable conversations organized by Territorial Agency, an independent organization founded by John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog that promotes sustainable territorial transformations. These activations take the form of lectures, conversations, and object-making drawn from data sourced from CNR-ISMAR’s research archive.
The exhibition is commissioned and produced by TBA21–Academy and curated by TBA21–Academy curator Stefanie Hessler, in partnership with CNR-ISMAR.
“Prospecting Ocean” is made possible in collaboration with CNR-ISMAR–Istituto di Scienze Marine in Venice and institutions such as GEOMAR – Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim.
Istituto di Scienze Marine (CNR-ISMAR), Riva dei Sette Martiri 1364