Press Release

Ocean Space Culminates First Season with Ambitious Series of Programs Keyed to the Release of a UN Special Report on Climate Change

Venice, Italy
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Conversations with Artists, Activists, Scientists and Experts, and Lecture-Performance by Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza on Sound Pollution Among Events Dedicated to Fostering a Deeper and More Engaged Relationship to the Ocean

Ocean Space, a collaborative platform initiated by TBA21–Academy, is marking the culmination of its dynamic first season with a series of special programs that build on its mission of inspiring action and fostering ocean literacy through impactful events and installations. Cross-disciplinary public events connecting art and science, the premiere of a new digital platform dedicated to oceanic research and discovery, and the launch of the largest voluntary plastic clean-up ever organized in Venice are among the events unfolding over the course of September. The month will culminate with two highlights: 

  • Phenomenal Ocean, the Convening of Chus Martinez’s expedition to the Solomon Islands as part of TBA21–Academy’s signature fellowship program The Current. The day-long event will include a series of cultural responses to the special report issued by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as part of the new digital platform, Ocean Archive;
  • SOUNDS TOO MANY, an immersive lecture-performance by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Chair Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza that explores the critical threat of noise pollution to marine life. 

Starting in October, Ocean Space will close to the public to undergo additional work on its interior. Ocean Space’s program will relaunch next spring with a new commissioned research project by Territorial Agency, an independent organization situated at the intersections of spatial analysis, science, politics, oceanography, and environmentalism and driven by the urgency to contribute imaginatively to the recuperation of life in the oceans.

"We created Ocean Space to bring people together to be inspired to act for the future of our oceans. This season’s programming has engaged and challenged local and international audiences, from the presentation of the TBA21–Academy commission Moving Off The Land II by the remarkable Joan Jonas, which transformed the space into an extension of the ocean, to a series of lectures by experts such as American ecologist Jeremy Jackson and local vela al terzo sailors, to creative workshops for children of all ages,” stated Markus Reymann, Director of TBA21–Academy. "We're pleased to round out a momentous launch with Chus Martinez's second Convening and the introduction of the Ocean Archive as a cultural response to the IPCC report. We look forward to Ocean Space’s continued evolution so that we may push boundaries even further."

Opened to the public in March 2019 in the historic Church of San Lorenzo in Venice, Ocean Space is conceived as a haven for ocean literacy and imagination and builds on the expansive work of TBA21–Academy, a nomadic non-profit dedicated to fostering a deeper and more engaged relationship to the ocean through innovative programming across the globe. Through installations, public programs, and educational outreach, Ocean Space encourages audiences to radically reimagine how we see and treat the oceans.

Expanded details on the events opening at Ocean Space this September follow below:

Plastic Free Venice Lagoon: Clean Up Day 

September 21, 2019, 9:30 a.m.

Ocean Space is once again partnering with Plastic Free Venice Lagoon to launch the largest voluntary plastic clean-up ever organized in Venice and its neighboring islands. Ocean Space will be the meeting point for participants, where clean-up equipment for the canals will be available. At 5 p.m., children of all ages are invited to enjoy Contemporary Archeology, the final children’s workshop of the season where they will time-travel and become future scholars for the afternoon. The event will close with a live band using instruments crafted from recycled plastic and light refreshments.

TBA21–Academy, The Current Summer School 

September 23–27, 2019

TBA21–Academy Expedition Leader Chus Martínez pioneered a new addition to the Academy’s signature The Current fellowship program: a Summer School to specifically engage university students in the pressing oceanic problems and possible solutions. Following Martínez’s The Current Expedition #2 to the Solomon Islands in April 2019, this year’s edition of Summer School is mounted in collaboration with the Institut Kunst and FHNW Academy of Art and Design and will offer classes, workshops, and mentoring opportunities at Ocean Space.


September 27, 2019, 7:30 p.m.

This lecture-performance by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Chair Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza calls for a quieter ocean, using sophisticated audio engineering and synchronized data visualizations to put the exploding issue of manmade sound pollution into perspective. The immersive experience questions the unlimited and unregulated sonic pollution that the Anthropocene era has imposed on our oceans and the disruption that this causes to all natural phenomena. A spatialized underwater soundscape transports listeners to a world that is terrifyingly brutal, with visualizations providing visceral insights into the scale and mechanics of the ecological threat that is sound pollution in the ocean. SOUNDS TOO MANY reveals the sources of ever-increasing subsurface noises and how each of us can affect meaningful change in reducing it.

The project was developed in collaboration with the Acoustic Ecology Laboratory at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the award-winning NRDC documentary Sonic Sea, TBA21–Academy expeditions, the sound artist Jana Winderen, and other contributors.  Ears Up Sound Design Studio in Burbank, California, in partnership with Meyer Sound Laboratories, created the spatialized soundscape, with visualizations by Territorial Agency.

TBA21–Academy, The Current Convening led by Chus Martínez: Phenomenal Ocean 


  • Cultural Responses to UN’s Special Report on the Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate
  • Introduction of Ocean Archive

September 28, 2019, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

Expedition Leader and Curator Chus Martínez hosts a day of ideas designed to help invent a new language for the ocean, one that involves pedagogy, structural changes, science, and playful discovery. Presented as part of the second cycle of The Current, TBA21–Academy’s signature fellowship program, the Convening is anchored by a commission by interdisciplinary collective DIS, major video works, and a series of interviews. 

Martínez will also introduce the Ocean Archive, a digital repository for collaborative research which will provide a cultural response to the Special Report on the Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, to be issued by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in late September.  A network of artists, activists, scientists, policy experts, frontline community leaders, and students, including Julieta Aranda, DIS, Elena Mazzi, Skye Moret, Francesca Mussi, Katrin Niedermeier, Ingo Niermann, Tabita Rezaire, Marzia Rover, and Lena Maria Thüring, will critically examine the implications of the report and discuss the tools we need to perform better for the ocean, exploring real solutions to avert climate catastrophe in light of the report’s dire statistics. The Convening will also include a special performance by Niño de Elche.

The Convening will be captured in a livestream, which will be recorded on Ocean Archive (, a new digital platform operating at the intersection of scientific inquiry, artistic intelligence, and environmental advocacy that compiles oceanic projects from around the world. Ocean Archive is initiated by TBA21–Academy to foster decentralized international cooperation and information exchange for a living ocean. Ocean Archive has extended an invitation to individuals and institutions worldwide to participate in a network of autonomous events to be held on the same day in response to Special Report on the Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate.

Moving Off the Land II by Joan Jonas

Ongoing through September 29, 2019

Commissioned by TBA21–Academy and building on the artist’s recent performance work and research on the seas, Moving Off the Land II (2019) pays tribute to the oceans and their creatures, biodiversity, and delicate ecology. Curated by Stefanie Hessler, the installation brings together drawings, sculptures, video installations, and sound works centering on the oceans as a totemic, spiritual, and ecological touchstone. Interweaving prose by writers like Emily Dickinson and Herman Melville and texts by Rachel Carson and Sy Montgomery, with moving images from Jonas’ residency at TBA21–Academy’s scientific and conservation partner, Alligator Head Foundation, in Portland, Jamaica, as well as from aquariums from around the world, the multi-media installation deconstructs and translates Joan’s mesmerizing performance Moving Off the Land (2016–ongoing), also commissioned by TBA21–Academy. Moving Off the Land II is commissioned by TBA21–Academy and co-produced with Luma Foundation. 

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Joan Jonas, Moving Off the Land II, at Ocean Space, Chiesa di San Lorenzo, 2019. Photo Enrico Fiorese

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