Cohabiting within Wetness.
Venice as a Model for the Future?
April 29 – September 30, 2022

From "Rebuilding with water and mud: a breathing lagoon," walk with Alberto Barausse, 2021

The Venice lagoon is the largest coastal wetland in the Mediterranean basin. For its brackish nature, its tides and rich biodiversity, as well as for the huge human impact on its ecosystem, it is a reference for studies and planning in areas with similar characteristics around the world. It is therefore necessary to imagine not only the city, but also its lagoon as a model for the future.

Today forecasting techniques are based on predictive modeling, which identifies recurring patterns in existing data and uses them to predict how they will behave in the future, in order to plan adaptive solutions. But what happens if some crucial variables are excluded from the development of scalable models? For example, we know that the construction of the flood barriers MOSE was slowed down by the unpredicted growth of colonies of mussels and other mollusks on the concrete caissons at the base of its bulkheads.1

Every project should take into consideration the life of the territory that hosts it, which is constantly changing. We cannot ignore the importance of community and cultural relations between people, nor mistakenly consider nonhuman factors, such as the aforementioned mussels, the mud, or the salt marshes, as lacking agency. As philosopher and political theorist Jane Bennett reminds us, history is the outcome of cohabitations and coalitions of different elements, organic and not, of which humanity is only a part: “How do worms make history? They make it by making vegetable mold, which makes possible ‘seedlings of all kinds,’ which makes possible an earth hospitable to humans, which makes possible the cultural artifacts, rituals, plans, and endeavors of human history […] Worms participate in heterogeneous assemblages in which agency has no single locus, no mastermind, but is distributed across a swarm of various and variegated vibrant materialities.”2

What “transformative relationships”3 between collectivity and species are ignored in constructing models for the future growth of the lagoon, and how might we rethink them as we consider the lagoon as a living environment? How have they changed, not only through the centuries, but also in recent decades? What regeneration and active citizenship projects are already underway? With the itinerant conversations of the cycle “Cohabiting Within Wetness,” the third chapter of the project “Venice as a model for the future?” developed by TBA21–Academy for its Ocean Space, we direct our eyes and walks toward the localized action of organisms and phenomena often disregarded, yet fundamental for the balance of this ecosystem.

The project “Venice as a model for the future?” was initiated in 2020 and is curated by Barbara Casavecchia and Pietro Consolandi. “Cohabiting Within Wetness” is part of the three-year research cycle The Current III—“Mediterraneans: ‘Thus waves come in pairs’ (after Etel Adnan)," led by Barbara Casavecchia.
Friday, April 29
Margherita Scapin and Amina Chouairi - WaterLANDS: The European Green Deal in Venice, Torcello

Friday, May 6
Giorgia Fazzini - Currents and Water Cycles: Past and Future of a Small Venetian Island, Lazzaretto Nuovo.

Friday, May 27
Jacopo Galli - AIR / AIR / AIRE: Breathing Communities from Venice to Catalonia, S.Basilio (Venice). (Bookings open on Friday May 13)

Friday, June 10
Camilla Bertolini - The Return of Venetian Flat Oysters: MAREA project, Piazzale Roma (Venice). (Bookings open on Friday May 27)

Friday, JUNE 24
 Massimo Milan - A Bivalve Sentinel and Chemical pollution in the Lagoon, Parco San Giuliano (Mestre). (Bookings open on Friday June 10)

Friday, July 8
Tito Pamio - At the Water's Edge: The Salt Marshes by Kayak, Passo Campalto. (Bookings open on Friday June 24)

Friday, September 9
Francesca Coccon - The Cocài (seagulls) and Us: Contemporary Coexistence, Campo San Francesco della Vigna (Venice). (Bookings open on Friday August 26)

Friday, September 30
Rita Vianello - Transported by Water: Marine Fauna and Fishing Communities, Burano. (Bookings open on Friday September 9)
Barbara Casavecchia is a writer, independent curator, and educator based in Milan, where she teaches at the Department of Visual Cultures and Curatorial Practices of the Brera Academy since 2011. She currently holds a course in Critical Writing at NABA, Milan. Contributing editor of Frieze magazine, her articles and essays have been published in art-agenda, ArtReview, D/La Repubblica, Flash Art, Mousse, Nero, South, and Spike, amongst others, as well as in artist books and catalogues. In 2018, she curated the solo exhibition “Susan Hiller, Social Facts” at OGR, Turin. In 2020, she acted as Mentor of the Ocean Fellowship Program offered by TBA21–Academy at Ocean Space in Venice. In 2021–2023, Barbara is going to lead The Current III.  

Pietro Consolandi is a former fellow of TBA21–Academy’s inaugural Ocean Fellowship. He is an artist, writer and curator with education in political theory (MSc at the University of Edinburgh) and visual arts (MA at the IUAV University of Venice). His practice strives to blur the boundaries between these two disciplines. His recent works approach issues connected with the Anthropocene and the great climate acceleration, analyzing how late-stage capitalism critically strikes the world through chaotic action and irresponsible development. Primarily as part of the collective Barena Bianca, his practice uses art as a resistance tactic in Venice, highlighting how global networks of research and activism are essential to understand and tackle issues that are simultaneously ecological and sociological in nature.

[1] “Mose di Venezia, invasione di cozze sui cassoni sotto il livello del mare,” The Huffington Post  (January 17, 2017),

[2] Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), 95–96. 

[3] As Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing explains: “My interest is in the exclusion of biological and cultural diversity from scalable designs. Scalability is possible only if project elements do not form transformative relationships that might change the project as elements are added. But transformative relationships are the medium for the emergence of diversity. Scalability projects banish meaningful diversity, which is to say, diversity that might change things.” Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, “On Nonscalability: The Living World Is Not Amenable to Precision-Nested Scales,” Common Knowledge, vol. 18, no. 3 (2012): 507.