OCEAN / UNI Spring Semester:
Ocean Commons – Reclaiming the common oceans
January 20 – May 12, 2021


Ocean Commons – Reclaiming the common oceans inaugurates the second cycle of TBA21–Academy’s Ocean / Uni in 2021. This art–science educational initiative, open to the general public, offers 8 biweekly online sessions to delve further into investigations at the core of the research exhibition Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation, commissioned by TBA21–Academy, to re-open at Ocean Space in March 2021. 

Latched to the launch of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021–2030), Ocean / Uni invites exchange and debate to garner knowledges and stake out new perspectives on the oceans and their intractable destabilizations. Ocean Commons – Reclaiming the common oceans draws on a community of scholars, artists, practitioners, and ocean enthusiasts to think with the politics of the commons and the world of communal relations from within critical ocean studies and activist practices. To defend and reclaim the commons touches upon ethics of care and the threading of mutual bonds. This call is harnessed by people on the most divergent and intersecting fronts, to counter the sorcery of capital and commodification. But it also alerts us to the disturbing realization that while the commons may be figured as owned by all, this comes with the risk of being cared for by none.

What is defined as common to humankind is undergoing legal reformulation in different international fora, from the UN’s instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ), to the Mining Code, and WTO negotiations on fisheries. At the same time, the International Labour Organisation has ruled on the failure of governments worldwide to protect seafarers during the pandemic, by neglecting their duty of care under international law. Such ideological and regulatory narratives are currently creating enclosures, and infringing on the ideals of communing through the privatization of spaces of freedom and their wealth of resources. 

Bringing into view the many discordances and ruptures in the handling of the thalassic commons reveals a fractious and insidious assault on reciprocity, mutuality, and care. Urgently undoing these narratives, and exploring the inclusion of non-human others in the discourse, offers the chance to reshape the ways in which we live together and attend to new forms of sociality. It is not the enchantment with an archaic dream that guides this investigation, but the upholding of an urgent political project in defense of the largest and most vital commons on this planet. 

The accumulation and availability of data resulting from what Jennifer Gabrys calls the "becoming environmental of computation" bring about potentialities for a new mode of dealing with ecological transformation at a planetary scale. However, asymmetries in access to this data persist and reinforce specific relations of domination, exploitation, and depletion of the commons, as well as denying contributions from actors outside the arenas of academia and governance. Which acts of communing and care can be imagined for contribution to a new episteme of togetherness and mutuality on a damaged planet? 

The spring semester program Ocean Commons – Reclaiming the common oceans offers broad exposure to ecocritical voices that speak to non land-based worldviews, and bring into focus situated struggles, forms of resistance, indigenous knowledges, legislative imagination, and forms of care. The program consists of expert presentations, discussions, and close readings (see: Arpentage sessions) to build grounds for forms of thinking and practices that exceed mere notions of repair and repristination.
To expand on the questions and topics addressed within each Ocean Uni session, 4 extra online sessions of so-called "Arpentage" reading circles are offered as an experiment in collective learning, to deepen knowledge and activate the debate around specific ecocritical positions.

These reading circles are conceived as ways to engage the students in a more horizontal, non-hierarchical manner by using the methodology of the "arpentage", which has its roots in working-class culture (workers' circle), as an alternative pedagogy.
Ocean / Uni is the first articulation of a pedagogic project in which thinking with the oceans aims to complement and enhance land-based understanding of the Earth. The aim of the Curriculum is to provide students, researchers, and the public with wide-ranging and accessible explorations of the changes taking place throughout the oceans at a high level of expertise.
The program is intended for adults from any background and eager to engage in ecological, political, aesthetic, ethical, and scientific conversations around the futures of the oceans. Sessions will be held exclusively in English, so a good listening and speaking level is recommended to ensure a meaningful learning experience.
Form for online participation here
Session 1 - Wednesday,  January 20, 2–4 pm
With: Silje Ask Lundberg, chairman of Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature, Shirleen Chin, Legal and diplomatic team of Stop Ecocide and Managing Director of Green Transparency

Session in collaboration with NTNU Trondheim

Session 2 - Wednesday, Feb 3, 4–6 pm
Rémi Parmentier, Founding Director, Varda Group; Clement Yow Mulalap, legal adviser, Permanent Mission of the Federated States of Micronesia to the UN; Teresa Satta,  artist, and writer; Susanne Winterling,  artist, artistic researcher, and Professor at Trondheim Academy of Fine Arts, NTNU, Norway.

Session 3 - Wednesday, February 17, 4–6 pm
Louise Carver, Critical Geographer, Lancaster University; Nancy Couling, architect and urban researcher, currently Associate Professor at Bergen School of Architecture; Francisco Rodríguez Teare, artist.
As part of the program related to this session the video essay "The Lottery of the Sea" (2006) by Allan Sekula will be available for online viewing on Ocean Archive from February 17 till February 24.

Wednesday, February 24, 4–6 pm
Friday, February 26, 2–4 pm

The book in focus in these sessions is "Forest Law" by Ursula Biemann and Paulo Tavares. Sessions led by Pietro Consolandi and Beatrice Forchini

Session 4 - Wednesday, March 10, 4–6 pm
Sandor Mulsow, marine geologist.
Session in collaboration with NTNU Trondheim

Wednesday, March 17, 4–6 pm
Friday, March 19, 2–4 pm

The book in focus in this session is "Matters of Care" by María Puig de la Bellacasa. Session led by Markus Reymann and Katarina Rakušček

Session 5 - Wednesday, March 24, 4–6 pm
Philip Steinberg, Professor of Political Geography, Durham University; Marina Zurkow, artist; Nicola Manghi, anthropologist and PhD candidate at Department of Cultures, Politics and Society at the University of Turin, Italy

Session 6 - Wednesday, April 14, 4–6 pm
Jana Winderen, artist; Emma McCormick, artist, writer and researcher; Carl Michael von Hausswolff / freq_wave

Wednesday, April 21, 4–6 pm
Friday, April 23, 2–4 pm

The book in focus in these sessions is "Waves of Knowing - A Seascape Epistemology" by Karin Amimoto Ingersoll. Sessions led by Fiona Middleton and Pietro Scammacca

Session 7 - Wednesday, April 28, 4–6 pm
Sara De Vido, Associate Professor, Research Institute for Social Innovation, Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, and Beppe Caccia, Representative of Mediterranea Saving Humans; Calypso 36°21 (Justine Daquin and Zoé Le Voyer) curatorial collective, Ocean Fellows 2021

Wednesday, May 5, 4–6 pm

The book in focus is "In The Wake. On Blackness and Being" by Christina Sharpe. Session led by Pietro Scammacca and Beatrice Forchini

Friday, May 7, 2–4 pm
The book in focus is "Across Oceans of Law: The Komagata Maru and Jurisdiction in the Time of Empire" by Renisa Mawani. Session led by by Daniela Zyman and Pietro Consolandi

Session 8 - Wednesday, 12 May, 4–6 pm
Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza,Territorial Agency, Barbara Casavecchia, Markus Reymann, Pietro Consolandi, Fiona Middleton, Pietro Scammacca, Alice Sartori, and others
Ocean / Uni has been curated and produced with care by former Ocean Fellows Pietro Consolandi, Fiona Middleton, and Pietro Scammacca, alongside Beatrice Forchini, Petra Linhartova, Markus Reymann, Daniela Zyman, and TBA21–Academy team.

Graphic design: Studio Folder, Lana Jerichova