The Current II: The Ocean is on Air
Convening led by Chus Martínez & Julieta Aranda
January 25, 2019
Colombo, Sri Lanka

Photo: Ruvin de Silva.
Sissel Tolaas, Ocean SmellScapes_Sri Lanka, 2019. Fieldwork and research process, Sri Lanka
Photo: Ruvin de Silva.
Photo: Ruvin de Silva.

As part of the 2019 Colomboscope FestivalTBA21–Academy will hold a one-day Convening featuring the premiere of the third episode of the video series “What is Deep Sea Mining?” by artist collective Inhabitants, as well as readings, conversations, and performances by artists and leaders of previous TBA21-Academy activities, including Julieta Aranda, Anoli Perera, Stefano Harney, The Many Headed Hydra, and Sissel Tolaas. The event will be activated by Julieta Aranda on behalf of Chus Martínez’s Spheric Ocean TBA21–Academy Expedition and held in collaboration with Natasha Ginwala.

The sixth edition of Sri Lanka’s interdisciplinary arts festival, Colomboscope 2019 titled SEA CHANGE curated by Natasha Ginwala engages with the oceanic frontier, through visual arts, film, music, performance and scientific dialogue. With over 30 participants across different venues in Colombo, SEA CHANGE engages with marine ecologies, seafaring histories, and creative public access to the sea from a rapidly transforming coastline.

The Ocean is on Air
We tend to forget about the states of matter. We see water in the oceans, and in the melting glaciers but we forget about the clouds.

The ocean is air, the oxygen we breath comes from phytoplankton, ocean plants. We learn to call the planet blue not just because of the oceans, but because of the air we breathe we need to learn to see the complex dance that weaves together all life forms that share the planet – how the air produced by plants in the oceans relates to the air produced by plants on earth…. There is something to the notion of “elements” (air, water, fire, earth).

And while we are looking into this, we should also look at life in all its forms. States of matter, states of life. It seems that we are only able to give agency to the animal kingdom – our political imagination doesn’t extend to plants. We ascribe them a strange and passive status, even though they are everything but passive. But the vegetable forms of active production and their contributions to life do not resonate in our worldview, nor do they shape our values. Yet they should, because this failure of our anthropocentric approach may be blinding us to the most essential exchanges of life, the dance in which we are keeping alive together, in which we sustain each other.

Perhaps the processes of decolonization can use the ideas of photosynthesis, pollination, and osmotic absorption—we are all surface, all water, all porous membranes—to re-imagine how we could experience new forms of the political without destroying the world in the process of learning how to live in it.

– Julieta Aranda & Chus Martínez
Julieta Aranda, Stefano Harney, The Many Headed Hydra, Inhabitants, Jasmine Nilani Joseph, Hania Luthufi, Anoli Perera, Sissel Tolaas, Natasha Ginwala
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