OCEAN / UNI “Imagine the Ocean Dry as Lavender”
Mediterraneans as hotspot for climate change and adaptation
February 9 – May 11, 2022


With a title inspired by the evocative verses of Egyptian-Lebanese-French poet Andrée Chedid (Imagine / La mer, / Sèche comme lavande)[1],  the Spring semester of OCEAN / UNI 2022 focuses on the Mediterranean basin as an Anthropocenic hotspot and on building critical approaches to thinking about and engaging with the region.

There are as many Mediterraneans as there are demarcations of the complex geographies, histories, ecologies and geopolitical conflicts composing this neuralgic region, constantly resisting homogenization.[2] While the Mediterranean Sea is now described as a “solid” space whose liquid borders are enclosed, fenced and surveilled by the EU to stop the free circulation of migrant bodies[3], the Mediterranean climate - above and below the water surface - is mutating at such a tumultuous pace[4] that its expanding perimeter is blurry and increasingly difficult to draw. This expanding area is warming up 20% faster than the global average[5]; distant shores are now connected by heat waves, aridity lines and seasonal droughts, the rich marine biodiversity is being eroded, and the rapid decline of oxygen, nutrients and biomasses in the water is described as a process of ‘desertification’. What is then to be unlearned and relearned by situating our observations within an aquatic Mediterranean perspective?

Considering “the Mediterraneans” as a plural, transnational region in transformation, relying on watery networks composed of basins, rivers, coastlines and wetlands, helps us realise that they function as a constellation of distinct, yet interconnected ecosystems. Such systems, “multispecies webs” and “uneven landscapes”, as Anna Tsing points out[6], need to be understood in their specificity, before being translated on a planetary scale.  

The seven sessions adopt a transdisciplinary and decolonising[7] approach, inviting Mediterranean scientists, activists, artists and practitioners to share their knowledges and perspectives. By connecting accelerating anomalies in the water cycles, specific case studies and situated actions, OCEAN / UNI departs from the present to reflect on possible adaptations and imaginable futures. To look at the Mediterraneans as a paradigm, while non-localizing their shifting condition, means to look at many other middle seas and ecosystems of the globe.

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. Lectures will be held exclusively in English, so a good listening and speaking level is recommended to ensure a meaningful learning experience.

The curriculum is open to anyone with an interest in deepening their knowledge, understanding, and experience of the research topics unfolded in the curatorial fellowship program The Current III “Mediterraneans: ‘Thus waves come in pairs’ (after Etel Adnan)”. The first stream of The Current III cycle is led by Barbara Casavecchia as a transdisciplinary and transregional exercise in sensing and learning with by supporting situated projects, collective pedagogies, and voices along the Mediterranean shores across art, culture, science, conservation, and activism.
Initiated by Daniela Zyman, OCEAN / UNI is a collaborative project developed by TBA21–Academy for higher education institutions, independent researchers, practitioners, and Ocean enthusiasts that encourages building a far reaching network and developing a transdisciplinary methodology. Established in the fall 2020 as part of the activations around the exhibition Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation curated by Daniela Zyman, OCEAN / UNI is conceived as a pedagogic space that invites thinking with the oceans as a way to move towards more amphibious formulations, beyond land-sea binaries.

The proposed format of study revolves around biweekly sessions supported by smaller, more intimate workshops, hosted digitally. The program is open to a group of pre-registered public participants, university groups, guests, and moderators connected via Zoom, the ocean comm/uni/ty, and Ocean-Archive.org.
Form for online participation here
Wednesday 9 February, 6–7.30 pm CET
First session
Prologue: On transformative narratives for climate justice
With Nathalie Hilmi, Lead Author for MedECC "The First Mediterranean Assessment Report (MAR1)" and IPCC "Sixth Assessment Report (AR6)", Section Head of Environmental Economics at Centre Scientifique de Monaco;
Radha D'Souza, Writer, critic and commentator on Third World issues, social justice activist, Professor of International Law and Development at the University of Westminster. With Jonas Staal, she started the Court for Intergenerational Climate Crimes (CICC) project.

Wednesday 23 February, 6–7.30 pm CET 
Second session
Coastal ecosystems: mutations and solutions
With Ourania Tzoraki, Marine Scientist, Professor of Integrated River and Coastal Zone Management at the University of the Aegean, Greece. Ourania also touches upon the migratory crisis in the Aegean and facilitates refugees' access to research;
Nicolas Floc'h, Photographer and Visual Artist. Nicolas focuses on underwater environments, documenting global changes and trying to define the concept of an "underwater landscape".

Wednesday 9 March,6–7.30 pm CET 
Third session
Aridity, politics and poetics of Mediterranean water cycles
With Francesca Masoero, Founder of QANAT, a collective platform that explores the politics and poetics of water in Morocco and beyond.
Louisa Aarraass, agroecologist, curator of Harvest Festival in Marrakesh and long-term contributor to QANAT collective.
Jumana Emil Abboud, Palestinian visual artist based between Jerusalem and London, currently pursuing a practice-led PhD at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London.


Wednesday 23 March, 6–7.30 pm CET 
Fourth session 
A breathless sea. The intricacies of water pollution
With Tarek Elhaik, anthropologist and curator. His work is based on participant observation in several domains of practice: visual arts, curation, cinematic arts, and experimental media.
Lara Tabet, a practicing medical doctor and visual artist. Her artistic practice is informed by her background in pathology and inspects the legacy of trauma in Lebanon.


Wednesday 6 April, 6–7.30 pm CET
Fifth session
Rights to more-than-humans! The legal case for the Mar Menor lagoon
With Lorenzo Sandoval, Artist and Mar Menor activist, notary for ILP Mar Menor signature campaign.
Teresa Vicente Gimenez, Chairwoman of the course on Human Rights and Rights of Nature, Universidad de Murcia 


Wednesday 27 April, 6–7.30 pm CET
Sixth session
Against nature? Challenging norms, redefining rights
With Soufiane Hennani, PhD candidate in Health Sciences at the Hassan II University of Casablanca, independent activist for LGBTQI+ rights and Queer Columnist, founder of MACHI ROJOLA, an alternative platform to rethink and question masculinity(s) in Morocco.
Chiara Cartuccia, art historian, independent art writer and curator, co- founding director of the curatorial project EX NUNC, PhD candidate at University of Amsterdam and part of the Curatorial/Knowledge research group at Goldsmiths, University of London.
HUNITI GOLDOX (Areej Huniti & Eliza Goldox), Artist duo working with new and old media tools such as VR and 3D Animation, video art, conversations and writing.


Wednesday 11 May, 6–7.30 pm CET
Seventh session
On Mediterraneization: different latitudes, same issues
With Wael Al Awar, architect and founder of waiwai design; co-curator of “Wetland”, UAE Pavilion, Golden Lion at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale 2021
Zeyn Joukhadar, Syrian-American writer with a background in Pathobiology, recipient of the 2021 Stonewall Book Awards and the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction

Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy
Columbia University, New York, USA 
GEO—DESIGN, Design Academy Eindhoven, The Netherlands 
Hochschule Mainz: University of Applied Sciences, Germany
Institut Kunst, FHNW Academy of Art and Design, Basel, Switzerland
Salon Swiss / Bern University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland 
NABA, Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, Milan and Rome
The spring semester of OCEAN / UNI 2021-2022 is curated and developed by Barbara Casavecchia, Leader of The Current III - “Mediterraneans: ‘Thus waves come in pairs’ (after Etel Adnan)”; Pietro Consolandi; Justine Daquin and Zoé Le Voyer (Calypso 36°21), former Ocean Fellows; and ​​Beatrice Forchini, Assistant Curator, TBA21; alongside Petra Linhartová, Head of Digital & Development, Michal Kučerák, Digital Content Manager; and Markus Reymann, Director of TBA21–Academy. Graphic design: Lana Jerichová, bruno. Produced with care by the TBA21–Academy team.

[1] From: Andrée Chedid, Imagine, 1968, in Textes pour un poème, Flammarion, 2014, p. 259. Translated into English in: Women of the Fertile Crescent: An Anthology of Modern Poetry by Arab Women, edited and translated by Kamal Boullata, Three Continents Press, 1978, p. 7.

[2] David Abulafia, The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean. Oxford University Press, 2011.

[3] Multiplicity, Solid Sea, 2002. Commissioned by Documenta 11. Founding members Stefano Boeri, Maddalena Bregani, Francisca Insulza, Francesco Jodice, Giovanni La Varra and John Palmesino.

[4] IPCC, Regional Fact Sheet: Europe in Sixth Assessment Report, Working Group I - The Physical Science Basis, 2021 LINK

[5] UN Environment Programme, Information and Communication Regional Activity Center, 2020, The Mediterranean is a Climate Change Hotspot, LINK

[6] Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Andrew S. Mathews and Nils Bubandt, Patchy Anthropocene: Landscape Structure, Multispecies History and the Retooling of Anthropology, LINK

[7] Gabriele Proglio (ed. by), Decolonising the Mediterranean. European Colonial Heritages in North Africa and the Middle East, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017.