Territorial Agency:
Oceans in Transformation
August 27, 2020 – August 29, 2021
Ocean Space, Venice

Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation at Ocean Space. Photo: Gerdastudio.
Design: Studio Folder.
Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation at Ocean Space. Photo: Enrico Fiorese.
Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation at Ocean Space. Photo: Gerdastudio.
Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation is commissioned by TBA21–Academy. Europe's continental shelves are among the most exploited areas of the global ocean. EMODnet data.
Ocean Space Venice

The oceans are changing very fast, yet knowledge of them is moving slowly and is enveloped in long-established forms of cultural separation and distinction between human activities at land and at sea. This division needs to be rethought to address the urgent and vast transformations that the seas are undergoing. –Territorial Agency

March 22, 2021, will mark the re-opening of Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation curated by Daniela Zyman. The second chapter of this exhibition introduces a number of new questions and visual methods developed in collaboration with an open research community of ocean thinkers and practitioners in the course of 2020. Responding to the exploratory proposal by Territorial Agency, namely how art can recombine the fragmented knowledges which investigate the rapidly changing global oceans, a series of meandering collaborative examinations called Messy Studios were summoned to join in a polyphony of theoretical and practical investigations. These gatherings were colored by the epidemic governance, the unfolding “climate” of antiblackness, anti-democratic maneuverings, and the push-back against environmental concerns that marked much of the past year. These unprecedented intensities have shaped Oceans in Transformation, and it now focalizes new materials and arguments, contributing to a deeper and more elaborate installation version.

Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation synthesizes three years of intersectional research, commissioned by TBA21–Academy that investigates the transformation of the world oceans as a result of reckless and exploitative human activities. Assessing the latest scientific knowledge, the project reiterates the critical role of the oceans in respect to planetary survival. TBA21–Academy and Territorial Agency have collaborated with a network of researchers and institutions to give exposure to new forms of visibility and understanding of the ocean brought by science, culture, and art.
Departing from an analysis of global sea-level rise, one of the most visible signs of climate emergency, Oceans in Transformation considers the oceans as a sensorium; that is, a sensing body which absorbs and registers the intensified activities of humans in its circulations, ecosystems, and dynamics. At the same time, it is being registered by different cultural, economic, scientific, legal, and conservationist groups in their efforts to understand the changes the oceans are undergoing. Noticing these pervasive transformations sets a whole new agenda, one that addresses human and nonhuman needs, with deep care, imagination, and far-sightedness.
Sea level rise, intensification of maritime transport, overfishing, depletion of coastal ecosystems, deep-sea mining, sea-floor trawling, oil exploration, extraction, migration, changing ocean circulations, militarization, and melting ice are some of the ecocidal transformations that the research project traces and registers. By superimposing and interconnecting – conceptually and visually – the spatial inscriptions and reconfigurations they create, Oceans in Transformation rearranges the maritime space as a stage for human violence, empire, and colonial history. What emerges is a new figure where environmental and economic processes are deeply intertwined.

The exhibition is on view until August 29, 2021, and will be further activated during the Venice Biennale of Architecture, opening in May 2021, connecting and contextualizing the exhibition with Territorial Agency’s research selected as part of the central pavilion entitled As One Planet, alongside the work of Olafur Eliasson, Sheila Kennedy, James Wescoat and others. On this occasion, the publication OCEANS Rising, a capacious accompaniment to the research conducted by Territorial Agency on the rapidly changing oceans and the intricate dialogue with a group of Ocean Fellows and invited scholars and artists held over several months during the outbreak of the Covid pandemics, will be presented to the public.

As an ongoing investigation, over the duration of the exhibition Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation, Ocean Space will host a program of peer-to-peer gatherings and events, as part of its seasonal public programming. These will engage important voices in environmental conversations and research, including scientists, artists, governmental and society groups, policymakers, and conservationists. As the body of work remains open to further development and research, Territorial Agency aims to prompt further conversations and offer both utopian proposals as well as concrete solutions for today.
Oceans in Transformation on Ocean-Archive.org
Amidst a raging pandemic that has curtailed public life and cultural production, TBA21–Academy through Ocean Space and Ocean Archive, has continued to support artistic production and maintaining a culture of care and concern for Venetian and international communities. The three-year research project Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation, curated by Daniela Zyman, has been launched on the open-access digital platform Ocean Archive with a series of online events.

Oceans in Transformation is organized through seven trajectories that have been released every ten days on the Ocean Archive over the course of three months and expanded by a series of essays co-edited in collaboration with E-flux Art & Architecture and further enriched through additional research by a trans-disciplinary group of researchers taking part in TBA21–Academy's Ocean Fellowship program

"Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation" is commissioned by TBA21–Academy and co-produced with Luma Foundation.
Daniela Zyman

Founded by the architects Ann-Sofi Rönnskog and John Palmesino, Territorial Agency is an independent organisation that combines architecture, spatial analysis, advocacy, and action to influence change in the inhabited environment. In keeping with TBA21–Academy’s commitment to fostering a deeper understanding of the oceans through the lens of art and other cultural practices, Oceans in Transformation articulates new ways of decoding the oceans. Material and conceptual inquiries are the key elements of the research commission, instigating new cultural, ocean-centric forms of knowledge.

August 27–November 29, 2020. 

May 3–August 29, 2021.
Click here
Thursday, July 30, 2020
Terrestrial University: Oceans in Transformation
In collaboration with ZKM Karlsruhe
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Friday, July 24, 2020

Messy Studio: So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish–The Humboldt Current

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Monday, July 27, 2020

Tavola 7: What's In A Name? An exercise in togetherness
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Thursday, July 16, 2020

Messy Studio: Cities-to-come on the Asian coastlines​

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Thursday, July 22, 2020
Tavola 6: Transmutations of Land, Labour & Food
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Wednesday, June 8, 2020
Messy Studio: Frozen reserves, brown clouds, and dissolving wet deltas—Ecosystems in transformation along the Indian Ocean Gyre
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Thursday, June 9, 2020
Tavola 5: Risk, rights and coexisting voices of the Indian Ocean
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Monday, June 22, 2020
Messy Studio: Mid-Atlantic With Zakiyyah Iman Jackson 
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Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Messy Studio: (Pan~) Atlantic Worlds
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Thursday, June 25, 2020
Tavola: Mnemonic Ocean–Monsoons, Memory and Atlantic movements
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Monday, June 15, 2020
Messy Studio: Pacific Futures
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Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Tavola 3: Soluble Geographies of the Equatorial Pacific
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Monday, June 1, 2020
Messy Studio: The Gulf Stream
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Friday, June 5,  2020
Messy Studio: Aquapolitics along the Gulf Stream

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Monday, June 8, 2020
Messy Studio: World Oceans Day Special
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Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Introduction to the first trajectory, North Sea to Red Sea, by John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rӧnnskog
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Messy Studio: Acqua Alta – The Rising Waters, first session
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Thursday, May 21, 2020
Messy Studio: Acqua Alta – The Rising Waters, second session
Zyman, and the participants of the Ocean Fellowship Program.
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Friday, May 22, 2020
Messy Studio: The “burning” of the Black Mediterranean 
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Thursday, May 28, 2020
Tavola: Dirty Business & Sunken Lions inc.
Industrialization on the Mediterranean coast and its archaeological landscapes
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