How to Wade Through Water? Storytelling as a Method

Design: Lana Jerichova

The fall semester of OCEAN / UNI 2021 begins by asking not why or what to research, but how. To wade through water, to walk through a fluid substance—the current of a shallow river, the edge of a littoral zone, or the heart of a lagoon—requires slowing down and adapting one’s way of moving to the pressure of a thick and liquid medium. This means we need to think through careful and continuous observation of the world, rather than after it. [1] Wading is an act that brings awareness of tidal or seasonal temporalities, touching and haptic ways of knowing, of feeling through water and the overflow of experience. 

An oceanic existence implies a constant state of becoming that thrives on open trails of exploration instead of appropriation or conquest. To conceive, tell, and hear stories is to engage with contexts and lifeways in relation [2] —it is a viscous form of research, a mode of learning by doing and engaging with existing conditions. It entails thinking of a place as an intricate net of the relations and forms of knowledge that populate it, rather than something pristine to conquer and box into fixed categories. [3] It is an approach to exploration that implies crossing the same path over and over again and never exhausting the possibilities that unfold along this itinerary. 

By making space for stories that unwind the logics of accumulation and extraction pervading the Ocean, OCEAN / UNI welcomes perspectives that are intertwined with alternative ways of knowing, of organizing communities and modes of living together, attentive to non-binary, feminist, Indigenous, and decolonial approaches in ocean observation and conservation. 

Storytelling opens up paths for scientific knowledge and traditional ecological knowledge to intersect and pollinate each other. The series unfolds through six methodologies, offered as live possibilities for storytelling to generate knowledge, put it to use, and pass it along. We ask ourselves which modes of narrating, listening, archiving, playing, translating, and locating can be employed to reimagine and rewrite our histories, to stay present and attentive, and to create possibilities for other worlds to come into being. 

In this impulse resonate the words of feminist writer Ursula K. Le Guin in The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction, an essay-tale where Le Guin imagines technology and science as a carrier bag, a container to bring food home. In her eyes, a story is a bag, a belly, a box, a house or a medicine, a container for things contained, a tool that serves to sustain life and memory and to resist and replace the “killer story,” a trajectory of human progress centered around the heroic narrative of violence and domination. [4] 

Hegemonic systems of knowledge have manifested actions of asymmetry, exploitation, and violence over and through the Ocean. We are seeking mutual methodologies for wading through the littered histories of these murky waters—to train ourselves into the unease of immersion in an unfamiliar medium, to slow down and find other currents. 
In correspondence with the main acts, five workshops are curated by current Fellows of TBA21–Academy’s 2021 Ocean Fellowship. By offering a space to employ the explored methodologies, the activations provoke advancement from theory to practice, and invite participants to engage and respond. Workshops will open for registration in the preceding weeks.
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 Ocean. 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 exhibitions The Soul Expanding Ocean #1: Taloi Havini, and The Soul Expanding Ocean: Isabel Lewis, both on display at Ocean Space until 17 October 2021 and curated by Chus Martínez as part of the program The Current II. 

Participants are required to register for their attendance to the program online in a webinar format. Due to limited capacity applicants will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis. You are welcome to register in advance for more than one session. If you attend five sessions or more, you will receive an official certificate of attendance.
Initiated by TBA21–Academy in the fall 2020 as part of the activations around the exhibition Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation curated by Daniela Zyman, OCEAN / UNI is a program for higher education institutions, independent researchers, practitioners, and ocean enthusiasts that encourages building a far-reaching network and developing a transdisciplinary methodology. Conceived as a pedagogic space, OCEAN / UNI invites thinking with the Ocean as a way to move towards more amphibious formulations, beyond land-sea binaries. Framing the Ocean as an animate assemblage that constantly pulse and evolve, as political agents, and as epistemological substance might enable humans to (re)create forms of kinship that have been violated. The curriculum blends grassroots and academic knowledge, artistic positions and scientific case studies, institutional and self-seeded initiatives, to offer multifaceted and accessible explorations of the histories, ideas, and material changes taking place throughout the Ocean. Watch the trailer of OCEAN / UNI Spring Semester 2021, Ocean Commons: Reclaiming the Common Ocean.

OCEAN / UNI 2021/2022 will host further conversations, case studies, and encounters. The program for the Fall semester 2021, How to wade through water? Storytelling as a Method, draws on the works of artist Taloi Havini, resulting in the The Soul Expanding Ocean #1 exhibition, as well as on Isabel Lewis’ show The Soul Expanding Ocean #2, both on display at Ocean Space and curated by Chus Martínez as part of the program The Current II

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
Main sessions (“acts”) begin on 6 October and follow a biweekly rhythm. Guests are present live or pre-recorded on Zoom. 
All time in CET. 

Wednesday, 6 October, 6–7.30 pm
“Keep awake, keep listening. / The tide comes in fast”

Keynote speaker: Wanda Nanibush, Anishinaabe-kwe curator, artist and educator based in Toronto, Ontario. Curator of Indigenous Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario
and Shaul Bassi, Associate Professor of English literature, Ca' Foscari University of Venice; Meredith Root-Bernstein, CNRS research scientist, Natural History Museum in Paris, and teacher of the GEO—DESIGN course, Design Academy Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Thursday 14 October, 6–7.30 pm
In collaboration with Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
hybrid event: online and at Ocean Space, Venice
With: Cristina Baldacci, Senior Researcher at Ca' Foscari University of Venice; Shaul Bassi, Associate Professor of English literature, Ca' Foscari University of Venice; Giorgio Andreotta Calò, artist; Barbara Casavecchia, curator and writer, leader of The Current III, TBA21–Academy

Wednesday, 20 October, 6–7.30 pm
SESSION: “We need to tell and tell until all our stories are standing with us.”

With: Michelle Caswell, Associate Professor of Archival Studies in the Department of Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles; Raphaël Grisey, artist. Session curated by the Ocean Fellows and Mentors 2021

Wednesday, 27 October, time 5-6.30 pm 
On Plastic as Archive

Led by: Ohan Breiding, artist and Shoghig Halajian, curator and researcher, Ocean Fellows 2021
With: Michal Kučerák, Digital Content Manager, TBA21-Academy

Wednesday, 3 November, 6–7.30 pm
SESSION: “the story as i remember it” 

In collaboration with Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
With: Valentina Bonifacio, Associate Professor in Applied and Visual Anthropology at Ca' Foscari University of Venice; Macarena Gómez-Barris, Professor and Chairperson of Social Science and Cultural Studies at Pratt Institute, New York; Amanda Choo Quan, writer and poet

Wednesday, 10 November, time 5-7 pm
"Yo soy yo y mis circunstancias"

Led by: Ella Navot, Ocean Fellow 2021
With: Pietro Consolandi, researcher and artist, former Ocean Fellow

Wednesday, 17 November, 6–7.30 pm
SESSION: “Anyone can direct the situation"

In collaboration with Institut Kunst, FHNW Academy of Art and Design, Basel, Switzerland
With: Isabel Lewis, artist; Quinn Latimer, poet and critic; Chus Martínez, Curator of Ocean Space 2021-2022

Wednesday, 24 November, 6–7.30 pm
The body as a narrative tool

Led by: Elisa Giuliano, dancer, choreographer, and architect; Ocean Fellow 2020
With: Beatrice Forchini, Research and Education Programmer

Wednesday, 1 December, 6–7.30 pm
SESSION: “The inundated need no instruction in inundation”

In collaboration with GEO—DESIGN, Design Academy Eindhoven, The Netherlands 
With: Formafantasma, designers and heads of the GEO—DESIGN department, Design Academy Eindhoven, The Netherlands; Ayla Kekhia, designer, art director, and visual researcher and 2nd year GEO-Design student; Francesca Tambussi, social designer; Giuditta Vendrame, designer, artist and researcher.

Wednesday, 8 December, time TBC
Locating the in-between: drifting through liminal spaces

Led by: Zoé Le Voyer, Ocean Fellow 2021 and co-founder of collective Calypso36°21
With: Beatrice Forchini, Research and Education
Programmer, TBA21-Academy 

Wednesday, 15 December, 6–7.30 pm
SESSION: “The prefix trans~ promises movements across” 

With: Alexandra Boghosian, polar geophysicist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, and Ocean Fellow 2020; Charne Lavery, Lecturer, Department of English University of Pretoria, Researcher, Oceanic Humanities for the Global South, WiSER; and Skye Moret, marine scientist and designer at the Pacific Northwest College of Art.

Thursday, 16 December, time TBC
Kitchen Non-Confidential: Adventures in Culinary Translation

Led by: Rosalyn D'Mello; author, art critic, columnist, researcher, lecturer and Ocean Fellowship 2021 Mentor
With: Katarina Rakušcek, Content Strategist, TBA21-Academy
Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy
Columbia University, NY, 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 

AA Architectural Association School of Architecture, London
Brera Academy, Milan, Italy
Ca'Foscari University of Venice, Italy
GEO—DESIGN, Design Academy Eindhoven, The Netherlands 
NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

The OCEAN / UNI curriculum 2021/2022 is curated and developed by Barbara Casavecchia, Leader of The Current III; Beatrice Forchini, Research and Education Programmer: Pietro Consolandi and Fiona Middleton, former Ocean Fellows; alongside Petra Linhartova, Head of Digital & Development, Michal Kučerák, Digital Content Manager, and Markus Reymann, Director of TBA21–Academy; in collaboration with Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, GEO–Design at Design Academy Eindhoven, Institut Kunst HGK FHNW in Basel; and produced with care by the TBA21–Academy team.
Graphic design: Lana Jerichova

[1] Tim Ingold, “Anthropology Between Art and Science: An Essay on the Meaning of Research,” Field issue 11 (fall 2018), http://field-journal.com/issue-11/anthropology-between-art-and-science-an-essay-on-the-meaning-of-research. 

[2] Judy Iseke, “Indigenous Storytelling as Research,” International Review of Qualitative Research (November 2013).

[3] Ingold, ibid. 

[4] Ursula K. Le Guin, The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction (London: Ignota Books, 2019 [1986]).