Symposium: Down alive to wondrous depths
Exploring the oceans from contemporary ecology, science, speculation and fiction.
June 2 – June 3, 2023
Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

Galapagos, 2013. Photo: TBA21.
MNTB Madrid


More than 90% of the planet’s living organisms live in the depths of the oceans. Microscopic life forms or huge cetaceans, strange and intelligent creatures; an underwater world with an enormously varied population. The sea bed, however, is also inhabited by countless remains of shipwrecks, vestiges of failed journeys, the ghosts of colonialism, and more: human culture submerged in time.

Through international voices from the worlds of science, art and ecology this encounter focuses on a wide range of themes ranging from sound ecology and migratory flows to the slave trade or the decline of biodiversity, raising questions in order to consider the oceans from the present day and to weave new accounts in which biology and history, material and myth are among the threads.

The symposium is organised by TBA21 in collaboration with the Institute of Postnatural Studies and within the context of the exhibition Wu Tsang. Of Whales


Ayesha Hameed (London) makes videos, sound works, textiles, and performances. She is also a creative writer, critical essayist and poet. She has appeared on the BBC on several occasions as an artist and thinker. Hameed’s work explores the legacies of indentureship and slavery through the figures of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Her speculative approach examines the mnemonic power of the media she uses and intermixes: their capacity to transform the body into a body that remembers. The motifs of water, borders, and displacement, recurrent in her work, offer a reflection on migration stories and materialities, and, more broadly, on the relations between human beings and what they imagine as nature.
Recent commissions include solo exhibitions at Bonniers Konsthall (2022) Kunstinstituut Melly (2022), Indigo Waves at Zeitz MOCCA (2022), as well as contributions to the Liverpool Biennale (2021), Gothenburg Biennales (2019 and 2021), Momenta Biennale (2021), Lubumbashi Biennale (2019) and Dakar Biennale (2018).  She is co-editor of Futures and Fictions (Repeater 2017) and co-author of Visual Cultures as Time Travel (Sternberg/MIT 2021). She is currently a Senior Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths University of London and a Kone Foundation Research Fellow (2022-2026). 

Juan Pablo Pacheco Bejarano (Bogotá, 1991) is an artist, writer and educator passionate about the historical, material, and mythological relations between technology and ecology. His work dives into water, infrastructures, and telepathy, seeking to imagine media and mediations beyond extraction. Juan Pablo currently lives in the Netherlands, where he is a resident at the Jan van Eyck Academie and a lecturer at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague. He has also taught at the Javeriana and Andes Universities in Bogotá, and has worked as a programming coordinator at Plataforma Bogotá, a laboratory for art, science and technology, and Espacio Odeón, a space for contemporary art. His works have been developed and disseminated in Colombia, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, and Russia, among others. 

HUNITI GOLDOX is an artist duo consisting of Areej Huniti and Eliza Goldox. In their practice they are interested in how political systems, transitions and violence are affecting water bodies and landscapes. Through contextual examinations of geopolitical realities, marginalized oral histories and mythologies they create films, videos, VR-works, installations, conversations, texts, in addition to formats that can involve different voices and beings, such as workshops, excursions and interventions. This stems from the desire to create moments for collective imagining and re-imagining to collapse dominant narratives and fixed geographies. More specifically they engage with the notion of enforced mutation as a way to attend to present social and ecological struggles while demanding speculative answers to confront systematic oppression. They started this with a project on the buried water stream in the center of Amman/ Jordan then they extended to the swamp lands and mediterranean coast of Tunis/ Tunisia, the artificial lake land of Leipzig, the urban development projects around Tirana River and the Vistula River in Poland.
Areej Huniti received an MA in Global Digital Cultures at SOAS University of London and Eliza Goldox awarded an MA in Art & Design at Chelsea College/ University of the Arts London. Their work got exhibited at Darat Al Funun, The MMAG Foundation & The Jordan National Gallery, Goethe Institute in Amman, SomoS Art House (Berlin), at School Of Waters/ Biennale Mediterranea in San Marino, Sheffield Film Festival, D21Leipzig, TBA Academy/ Ocean Uni, Tirana Art Lab and Hauser&Wirth Menorca. 

The Institute for Postnatural Studies is a center of artistic experimentation for exploring and problematising postnature as a framework for contemporary art. Founded in 2020, it is intended as a platform for critical thought, a place online that brings together artists and researchers concerned about the global ecological crisis through experimental formats for the exchange and production of open knowledge.

Friday, June 3rd.
5 to 7 pm
Introduction: Institute of Postnatural Studies 

Projects presentation:
Ayesha Hameed’s Black Atlantis: the Plantationocene is a live audio visual essay, or live powerpoint cinema. It asks: what is the relationship between climate change and plantation economies, and how might we begin to think of a watery Plantationocene? It revolves around two islands: a former plantation in St George’s Parish in Barbados, and the port city of Port of Spain in Trinidad: visiting the heartland of one of the three stops of the triangular trade, and taking seriously Donna Haraway’s and Anna Tsing’s use of the term ‘plantationocene’ which connects the development of a plantation form of production to the beginning of the current geological era that we are in. 

Juan Pablo Pacheco Bejarano will present his most recent projects around water and technology, focused on telepathy as a way of relating to distance and otherness through depth and humidity. As part of these reflections, he will share his most recent projects on the Atlantis-2 undersea fiber optic cable, the first to connect Europe and South America, and on the pink dolphin from the Orinoco river, a mythological being trapped by coltan mining and hydroelectric infrastructure.

HUNITI GOLDOX’s Performative Matter unveils new, or hidden, terrains that make or unmake geographies and their material composition. Huniti Goldox’s research on erotic ecology, enforced mutation and water politics of the last 4.5 years will guide the different touch points of the screening lecture. Through video works, soundscapes and digital re-enactments, the frame will offer insights  into the interconnectedness of ecological and geopolitical realities. One that demands an active engagement with the world when it comes to revealing the lines of power that affect present ecological concerns such as resource scarcity, ecosystem collapse, extraction and dispossession. 

Saturday June 3rd
10 am to 12 am
Open forum and conclusions.
Institute of Postnatural Studies, Ayesha Hameed, Juan Pablo Pacheco Bejarano and HUNITI GOLDOX
Friday, June 2, 2023, 5 pm
Saturday, June 3, 2023, 10 am
Free entry. Ticket reservation here
Spanish and English with simultaneous translation
TBA21 in collaboration with the Institute for Postnatural Studies