Floating Cinema 2023
Program conceived by TBA21–Academy’s Ocean Space
September 1, 2023
Giudecca, Venice

Photo: Riccardo Banfi

For the fourth year, TBA21–Academy's Ocean Space takes part in Cinema Galleggiante–Unknown Waters—a cycle of screenings and performances that takes place exclusively on the waters of the Venetian Lagoon. For its fourth edition, titled Rethinking the City from the Lagoon, we will present a two-film program on Friday, September 1, 2023.

The future of Venice stands in its water, and paying tribute to its life “from below” has been the more-than-human approach chosen by the artists Sonia Levy, Diego Delas and Leonor Serrano Rivas

The 2022 Spring Artists in Residence return to premiere their films in this unique setting that honors the Venice Lagoon. As we, the spectators, remain floating on the surface of the waters, on boats and at docks, the presented films transport us into underwater life and matter. An implosion of images submerges us into a recreated lagoon through a magical trick, and guides us into a particularly toxic chapter in the history of transformations of the Lagoon. 

During the artists' fieldwork in 2022 and 2023, they engaged in observing and critically contributing to the conservation plans of the Venice Lagoon with preciously crafted narratives of the unseen. After having the privilege to spend time and learn from Venetian specialists, academics, scientists, workers, and activists, to understand salt marshes, acqua alta, the industry, and the history of continued transformations of this celebrated ecosystem, the artists decided to give the agency to the waters and disclose the hidden and often disregarded matter and life of those sustaining the “below.”

Spectators will be able to watch the programming from both their own boats, and from a barge designed to accommodate members of the public without a boat, with free booking.

For more information and to discover the complete program of the fourth edition of "Cinema Galleggiante - Unknown Water" please visit  www.cinemagalleggiante.it
Booking is required.
September 1,  6-11 pm

Sonia Levy, We Marry You, O Sea, as a Sign of True and Perpetual Dominion, 2023
Film, color, sound, 19 min ca. 

Commissioned by TBA21–Academy with the support of STARTS, an initiative by the European Commission, and the European Marine Board’s EMBracing the Ocean artist in residence program, an activity contributing to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development as well as the local support of the Marine Biology Station Umberto D'Ancona, University of Padova.

We Marry You, O Sea, as a Sign of True and Perpetual Dominion engages with Venice and its Lagoon "from below", bringing attention to the city's submerged, life-giving, and altered bio-geomorphological processes rather than on its often-recounted political and military histories. Underwater filmmaking exposes a fractured and troubled environment that complicates mainstream historical narratives that start above the water's surface. 

The film draws its title from the utterances spoken during The Marriage of the Sea, a ritual observed until the Venetian Republic's decline. In this ceremony, the Doge, the Republic's patriarch, would wed the lagoon by casting a golden ring into the water, declaring dominance over the sea. The artist reframes Venice's enduring relationship with its permeating waters, reflecting on its ongoing legacies of quests for mastery over watery environments.

In the Lagoon, a space requiring constant modifications for human settlements, wetlands and infrastructures have long been intertwined. Yet, twentieth century harrowing modernisation turned the wetland into an industrial frontier, reclaiming land from waters for production processes such as crude oil refineries. These industrial ventures fuelled by petrochemicals irretrievably remade the region's socio-ecological lifeways.
The film presents these histories of modernisation, interweaving archival images of the lagoon's industrialisation with submerged perspectives on present lagoon conditions. An original score created by a chorus of human voices and underwater sound recordings further emphasizes the links between submerged spaces and human domains, locating human voices within these shallows. The composition captures the lagoon's pulses and the impact of industries—from aquatic sounds drowned out by boat noises to the rhythmic poundings of industrial activity amidst surging tides—as it gestures toward the profound interplay between human history and the lagoon's shallows.

Diego Delas and Leonor Serrano Rivas, Breathings of the moon, 2022
Film, color, sound, 16:21 min

Commissioned by TBA21–Academy with the support of STARTS, an initiative by the European Commission.

The film Breathings of the moon stems from the homonymous performance and expedition work anchored into the underwater worlds of the Venice Lagoon and its canals. Inspired by the method and use of instruments by the natural magicians, and particularly by the work of 17th scholar Athanasius Kircher from the pre-scientific period, the film loops us back into the current post-nature times and the struggles of defining the world that we live in after the eruption of the climate crisis. To respond to the macro level challenges of the Venice Lagoon, aqua alta and the MOSE—the recently deployed infrastructure to control its effects—the film places the water at its core, insinuating its own agency, its breathings, movements, and multiples tides by a recreated lagoon affected by magnets and pigments in a small tank as a microcosm. To surpass the dichotomy of problem versus solution, the artists lean towards the potential of narratives, the role of fiction, and even magic to construct an implosion of imaginaries beyond data to conceive a world that, even if we risk not seeing yet, we cannot stop to perceive it by attuning to the multiplicity of bodies and breathing cycles decentering the human body and redefining the position of the so-called “nature”.

Find out more about the artists’ works and their research fieldwork in Venice through the podcast series Magical Fresh & Salty Conversations available on TBA21–Academy Radio channel on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast.

Curated by María Montero Sierra

For the second year, TBA21–Academy’s Ocean Space contributes to the night’s catering with a culinary intervention by The Tidal Garden as part of their Convivial Tables: Sapid Soil program, a series of events that insist on the possibilities of food habits to become tools for the emergence of amphibious worlds, for a past, present, and future—still possible to recover. Taking place between May and October 2023 at Ocean Space, these culinary interventions present the ongoing agronomic work of The Tidal Garden with local farmers and institutions. Chefs and businesses explore the edibility of halophytes and saline soils, inviting participants to speculate on the policies that could allow the physical and cultural cultivation, processing, and digestion of a sapid environment.

Convivial Tables is TBA21–Academy’s active research program dedicated to the ties between food and ecology and the way these affect bodies of water, led by María Montero Sierra and Barbara Nardacchione with Markus Reymann. This research program is aligned with the principles of regeneration and more-than-human rights promoted by the project Zoöp, in which TBA21–Academy is a partner.
Sonia Levy inquiry-led practice considers shifting modes of engagement with more-than-human worlds in light of prevailing Earthly precarity. Her work operates at the confluence of knowledge practices to interrogate western expansionist and extractivist logics. She was the 2022 recipient of the S+T+ARTS4Water's 'The Future of High Waters' residency hosted by TBA21 in Venice. She was the 2021 commissioned artist at Radar Loughborough and Aarhus University's Ecological Globalization Research Group. Levy participated in the 2020 Artquest's Peer Forum' Rewilding' at the Horniman Museum and Gardens. She has exhibited her work in solo and group shows in the UK and internationally. Her work has been published by MIT Press, Thames&Hudson, Antennae Journal, The Learned Pig, Billebaude, Verdure Engraved, and has appeared in NatureCulture and Parallax journals.

Both artists, architects, and researchers, Leonor Serrano Rivas and Diego Delas obtained their Masters in Arts in London (at Goldsmiths and the Royal College of Art) and studied their PhD in art practice in the UK (Slade, UCL, and The Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford). Serrano Rivas’s sculptures, films, and installations are often used as a way to present layered sensorial experiences where the viewer must forget the narrative impulse, unlearn the desire for resolution, and delve into the realm of the work. Delas’s paintings, textiles, and installations look at certain vernacular architectural motifs related to storytelling that configure the idea of a house as a familiar body, sustained by memories and populated with amulets. They are both currently working on two major solo shows opening next year: MNCARS Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid (Serrano Rivas) and CAB Burgos (Delas). International exhibitions include, among others, the Liverpool Biennial; E-Werk, Freiburg; Freelands Foundation, London; Matadero, Madrid; MUSAC, León; HAUS, Viena; C3A, Córdoba; St. Petersburg - The Russian Museum in Malaga, Málaga; ICA, London; Arcade, London; CAAC, Seville; Chisenhale Studios, London; BARCU, Bogotá; José La Fuente Gallery, Santander; Marta Cervera Gallery, Madrid; Lychee One Gallery, London; Tiro al Blanco, Guadalajara; CentroCentro, Madrid; La Casa Encendida, Madrid; Galleri Rotor, Gothenburg; and the 9th Venice Architecture Biennale, Venice.

The Tidal Garden is a Venice-based research and spatial agency founded in 2020 that explores the edible potential of halophytes as a tool for cultural adaptation to climate change. Led by Lorenzo Barbasetti di Prun (chef/artist), Filippo Grassi (scientist/researcher), and Lodovica Guarnieri (designer/curator) in collaboration with a network of farmers, chefs and researchers, the project supports the emergence of new eating habits as means of conservation of the Lagoon’s landscape in times of rising sea levels.
"Cinema Galleggiante – Unknown Waters", is a project conceived by Edoardo Aruta e Paolo Rosso presented by Microclima, in collaboration with TBA21–Academy – Ocean Space, Pentagram Stiftung, Palazzo Grassi – Punta della Dogana – Pinault Collection, Fondazione In Between Art Film, Uzbekistan Art and Culture Development Foundation, Cifra e COMBO.