Corona Under the Ocean

Design: Ana Domínguez Studio

Corona Under the Ocean is a podcast series exploring the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis on ocean research, as well as its effect on the ocean itself. Using the practice of storytelling, the ten chapters present conversations between writer and curator Sonia Fernández Pan and guests from various disciplines. 

As part of the third and final voyage of TBA21–Academy’s The Current II fellowship cycle Spheric Ocean: Life For Beginners led by Chus Martínez, the series offers a transoceanic perspective, emerging from the fields of marine science, postcolonial studies, speculative histories, and political imagination

Production: TBA21–Academy and the Art Institute, FHNW Academy of Art and Design in Basel
Final editing: Elena Zieser
Voice-over: Nathan Johnson
Music: Stephen McEvoy
Research Team Art Institute: Marion Ritzmann, Alice Wilke
Producer and Program Coordinator TBA21–Academy: María Montero Sierra
Technical Support: Esther Hunziker, Mark Ferkul
Press and Communication: Anna Franck, Katarina Rakušček
Graphic Design: Ana Domínguez Studio
Listen to all episodes on here.

Episode 1: Oceanizing History

The first episode is dedicated to Oceania. Did you know that the Pacific Ocean was named so by Ferdinand Magellan, referring to his feeling that the sea was dull over there? In this conversation Greg Dvorak, Professor of International Cultural Studies at Waseda University in Tokyo, reflects on how the colonizer's view has affected the region and, on how the word indigenous needs to gain even more political meaning.

Episode 2: We Are Ocean Life

The second episode, featuring marine biologist Marah Hardt, is dedicated to the vitalism and resilience of the ocean. Outlining her personal journey as a researcher, Marah provides a propositional critique of our relationship with the maritime environment, present but not always visible on a global scale. Understanding ocean research as a necessarily interdisciplinary practice, her scientific practice highlights the importance of storytelling as a tool for dissemination of ideas. In “We are Ocean Life,” Marah Hardt not only reminds us that all forms of life, including human life, come from the ocean, but also brings us closer to the amazing and exciting sexuality of fish.

Episode 3: Sea Nomads:The Orang Suku Laut

The third episode, featuring anthropology professor Cynthia Chou, is dedicated to the Orang Suku Laut, a nomadic community from the Malay world sea in Southeast Asia. Thanks to more than three decades of research, Cynthia Chou’s work brings us closer to the worldview and life practices of the Orang Suku Laut, for whom humans are just another element among the many creatures that inhabit oceans and land. Continually moved by the tides, their ancestral relationship with the environment not only puts many aspects of modern societies into question, but shows that another kind or relationship with the environment is possible, one that is reciprocal, cordial and without a hierarchy between the human and the nonhuman.

Episode 4: Water has Memory

The fourth episode, with agent of healing and artist Tabita Rezaire, is dedicated to the memory of water and its existence in flow within bodies. This podcast is the result of an intimate, personal, and mostly unscripted conversation between Tabita Rezaire and Sonia Fernández Pan. It even includes environmental elements, such as rain, showing how words, feelings, and ideas are also part of the flow of life that circulates through bodies. The great connecting element of this conversation is water, understood beyond its usual contexts to think through connections and interactions including the internet, colonialism, various healing strategies, spiritual states, and forms of meaning beyond words.

Episode 5: Thinking with Water

The fifth episode, featuring feminist philosopher Astrida Neimanis, puts into practice one of the author's methodologies: “thinking with water.” As a material, water not only enables a relational ontology when thinking about the reality that bodies inhabit and produce, but also allows for an understanding of feminism that transcends the human and incorporates a planetary and intersectional scale where race, class, and gender are in constant intra-action. This podcast is the result of a conversation between Astrida Neimanis and Sonia Fernández Pan, where the Covid-19 pandemic was also a constant, an atmospheric condition that is, in turn, political and ideological.

Episode 6: Underwater Projections

The sixth episode, with writer, lecturer, and curator Filipa Ramos is an approach to cinema from the ocean and to the ocean from cinema. Beyond the production of underwater images, there is a political relationship between cinema and the underwater world. As vision devices, the projection room and the tank or aquarium are related in their production of the fiction of a safe environment for the human being. Moreover, there are aquatic creatures capable of producing cinematic images, allowing an expansion of the concept of cinema beyond its own history and human history. This podcast is the result of a conversation between Filipa Ramos and Sonia Fernández Pan, in which the coronavirus was introduced from an animist perspective and proposes a criticism of the system in which it involuntarily operates.

Episode 7: The Sea Undoes the Land

The seventh episode, with curator Camila Marambio is an approach to Tierra del Fuego from her personal experience with a part of the world with which she has a strong emotional connection. As she states, Tierra del Fuego, "despite its remoteness, is the center of the world". Karokynka is the name by which this area of the world is known by the native Selk'nam people, a culture that still survives in its descendants despite its official death by the modern state of Chile. The fact of proclaiming as dead, a culture that is still very much alive, is part of the colonial project, transformed into white melancholy and colonizing mourning. This podcast is the result of a conversation between Camila Marambio and Sonia Fernández Pan, during an inspiring encounter in which they were also accompanied by many other voices and forms of tidal storytelling.

Episode 8: The Colonial Conditions of Western Knowledge

The eighth episode, with professor and anthropologist Elizabeth Povinelli, begins with her idea of axioms of existence, which put in crisis the abstract and universalist condition of Western philosophy. The ocean is not far from Western epistemologies and ontologies. In fact, it is totally entangled in them thanks to their intimate—and strategically invisible—relationship with colonial history and violence. The notion of geontopower, coined by Povinelli, critically revises the Foucauldian notion of biopower. The fictional but real frontier between life and non-life is a political frontier in continuous expansion, even beyond Earth. This podcast is the result of a conversation between Elizabeth Povinelli and Sonia Fernández Pan, in which the coronavirus was also present along with the idea of the virus as a rhetorical figure.

Episode 9: Political Action, Political Imagination

The ninth episode, with ship captain and sea rescue activist Carola Rackete, begins with her early research in the Arctic and Antarctic, and how she was able to sensibly feel the melting of the poles, without the need for scientific data. That was also when she decided to engage in political action in order to have a real impact on the multiple forms of violence the capitalist system perpetrates, both human and environmental, both individual and structural. This podcast is the result of a conversation between Carola Rackete and Sonia Fernández Pan, in which the Covid-19 pandemic was present from the viewpoint of maritime life and in vessels as working environments, as well as in the reinforcement of borders and the human abuses carried out under the pretense of pandemic response.

Episode 10: Viewing from the Inside

The tenth episode, with artist and filmmaker Su Yu Hsin, began with one of her many memories related to water, and how the appearance of light on water is indispensable for her when thinking with water. Su Yu Hsin’s homeland, Taiwan, is an island where water has a strong presence due to typhoons and the island’s atmospheric condition. In her artistic practice, she approaches ecology in its close relationship with technology, also investigating the ideology inherent to map-making throughout history and to this day. This podcast is the result of a conversation between Su Yu Hsin and Sonia Fernández Pan, in which they discuss how Covid-19 relates to the experience of the SARS crisis in Taiwan in the early 2000s and the collective learning that this experience meant for Taiwanese society.