Backst_age conversation with artists Joan Jonas and Patricia Domínguez
Live October 13, 19:00 CET


Join artists and kindred spirits Joan Jonas and Patricia Domínguez in a live cross-generational dialogue with TBA21’s founder Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza around the nature of commissioning and collaboration, and the politics of water, moderated by TBA21–Academy Director Markus ReymannBackst_age goes “behind the scenes” of st_age (stage.tba21.organd the processes involved in TBA21’s long term commissioning practice.
The conversation forms a bridge between two thoroughly related TBA21 works that have emerged from a very different commissioning process. Jonas and Domínguez both examine complex flows of water, multiple ecological crises, and contemporary spirituality. Jonas’s expansive exhibition Moving Off the Land II, was recently presented at the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, Madrid, following three years of oceanic research with TBA21–Academy. While Dominguez focusses on the struggle for access to water in her native Chile in her recent commission for st_age and, in a more sculptural presence, for the exhibition How to Tread Lightly, the current exhibition at Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum. 

Both of these works represent some of the topics set by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals program. They raise awareness of the most relevant and pressing issues of our times through the lens of art.

Underpinning each TBA21 commission, there is an elaborate weave of research, trust-building, and close collaboration, yet that is not always immediately apparent. TBA21’s extensive publication The Commissions Book, just released by Sternberg Press, gives a vivid insight into these relationships developed over the last two decades. TBA21’s Backst_age series opens up this conversation towards the future, in order to reflect on how commissioning practices at TBA21 and TBA–Academy should keep evolving, adapting, caring, and creating communities.

Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza: “Art is a source of knowledge and inspiration that flows between us, connecting people like a giant river. And like all rivers it flows towards the sea, and it is there that we are replenished.”

Joan Jonas (1936, New York City, US) is a world renowned visual artist whose work covers a wide range of media: video, performance, installation, sound, text, and sculpture. The experiments and productions Jonas carried out in the late sixties and early seventies continue to be key in the development of many contemporary artistic genres, from performance and video art to conceptual art and theatre. In 1968, the artist started to investigate ways of seeing the rhythms of rituals and the impact of objects and movement. Jonas has been the object of exhibitions, projections and performances around the world, in museums, galleries and major collective exhibitions such as the Taipei Biennale; documenta 5, 6, 7, 8, 11 and 13; the Sydney Biennale and Yokohama Triennale in 2008; and the 28th Biennale of Sao Paulo. Recently, she has been invited to put on several solo exhibitions in Jeu de Paume, Paris; Museum of Modern Art, New York; CCA Kitakyushu, Japan; Contemporary Art Museum, Houston; HangarBicocca, Milan; NTU Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore; the United States Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale; and in the Tate Modern, London. 

Patricia Domínguez (1984, Santiago, Chile) is an artist whose work brings together experimental research on ethnobotany, healing practices, and the corporatization of wellbeing, to focus on how neoliberalism perpetuates colonial practices of extraction and exploitation. Recent solo exhibitions include Madre Drone, CentroCentro, Madrid, and Cosmic Tears, Yeh Art Gallery, New York (both 2020); Green Irises, Gasworks, London (2019); Llanto Cósmico, Twin Gallery, Madrid (2018); soñé@cerá, Sala de Arte CCU Santiago (2017); Eres un Princeso,Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, Ohio; Los ojos serán lo último en pixelarse, Galería Patricia Ready, Santiago; and Focus Latinoamérica, ARCOMadrid, Madrid (all 2016). Recent group exhibitions include MOMENTA | Biennale de l’image, Montreal; The trouble is staying, Meet Factory, Prague (both 2019); What is going to happen is not ‘the future’, but what we are going to do, ARCOMadrid; Working for the Future Past, SEMA, Seoul (both 2018). 

Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza is the fourth generation of the Thyssen family committed to the arts. As the founder of Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21) she is a collector who forges relationships with contemporary artists through a program of commissions as the preferred method of adding works to the collection. These commissions are a reflection of her personal concern for the rapidly changing world we live in and the urgencies we face. She fundamentally believes in cultural diplomacy, which she learned from her father’s cultural exchanges with the Soviet Union in the 1980s during his, but has taken this practice to a whole other level by facilitating the foundation’s first commission in 2004, and taking the work of the foundation consciously into a practice of care and engagement. She later pushed the foundation into a further direction by supporting the creation of the TBA21–Academy as the exploratory soul of TBA21, a practice of artistic research focused exclusively on the oceans.

Markus Reymann is Director of TBA21–Academy, a foundation he co-founded in 2011 that fosters interdisciplinary dialogue and exchange surrounding the most urgent ecological, social, and economic issues facing our oceans today. Reymann leads the non-profit’s engagement with artists, activists, scientists, and policy-makers worldwide, resulting in the creation of new commissions, new bodies of knowledge, and new policies advancing the conservation and protection of the oceans. In March 2019, TBA21–Academy launched Ocean Space, a new global port for ocean literacy, research, and advocacy. Located in the restored Church of San Lorenzo in Venice, Italy, Ocean Space will be activated by the itinerant Academy and its network of partners, including universities, NGOs, museums, government agencies, and research institutes from around the world. Reymann also serves as Chair of Alligator Head Foundation, the scientific partner of TBA21–Academy. 

st_age ( is a new online platform launched by TBA21 in September 2021 as a response to the ongoing global impacts of Covid-19 on artists, communities, and the intersection with social and environmental issues. Season 1 runs until December 20, 2020, and includes projects by Dana Awartani, Patricia Domínguez, freq_wave by Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Dorine Mokha, Courtney Desiree Morris, Eduardo Navarro with BaRiya, Christian Salablanca Díaz, Saraab (Omer Wasim and Shahana Rajani), Yeo Siew Hua, Himali Singh Soin with David Soin Tappeser, and Daniel Steegmann Mangrané.

Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary: The Commissions Book (Sternberg Press, 2020) brings together visual and written material from TBA21’s commissioning practice and vast history of exhibitions and programs, including artists and architects such as David Adjaye, John Akomfrah, Olafur Eliasson, Amar Kanwar, Walid Raad, Jana Winderen, and—most recently—Joan Jonas. 
Link to the conversation: