Thu. Jun 8th, 2023

During the 59th Biennale Arte di Venezia sustainability and the human connection to nature and the planet are some of the most relevant topics seen in art installations and works in the city of canals. One of my favorite projects this year is ‘The Soul Expanding Ocean’ at Ocean Space which is located at the Church of San Lorenzo in Venice. Ocean Space is a planetary center for catalyzing ocean literacy, research, and advocacy through the arts led by TBA21 Academy, a contemporary art organization and cultural ecosystem fostering a deeper relationship to the Ocean through the lens of art to inspire care and action.

The project ‘The Soul Expanding Ocean’ curated by Chus Martínez hosts two solo exhibitions at Ocean Space Venice during the Biennale:

„Ocean! What if no change is your desperate mission?“ by South-African born contemporary artist Dineo Seshee Bopape and „Ciguatera” by Portuguese -born artist Diana Policarpo. These two solo exhibitions are independent, and yet, they are connected by many common threads. Just as we humans are so different and individual in our day to day lives, but all connected to the same source: our planet and mother nature. Both commissions give voice and presence to the Ocean as a repository of colonial histories where storylines interconnect past, present and future. Stories are told by microorganisms and algae who have been in coexistence ever since the early stages of evolution. Rocks, voices, and images are in movement like the waves and the earth that holds the memory and the substance of past actions that damaged life in many ways.

Dineo Seshee Bopape: Ocean! What if no change is your desperate mission?“

Dineo Seshee Bopape’s work is an immersive journey between past, present and future. It kind of makes you realize that there is not really a past or a future. There is only the present moment, now and the permanent connection to our planet.

From the Solomon Islands, on to plantations on the Mississippi, to Jamaica, and then back home to South Africa. In Bopape’s work travel becomes a language that allows timelines to converge and intersect in the space of waters.

Her approach merges several dimensions such as historical curiosity and science with traditional wisdom, a sense of hope, imagination, energies and spirituality, in order to create a conversation with the Ocean. This is beautifully captured in her video and augmented reality works activating a multifarious presence, which are installed inside the massive rocks, she brought to Ocean Space.

Diana Policarpo: “Ciguatera

This multimedia installation by Diana Policarpo, inside the Church of San Lorenzo Venice creates a magical atmosphere by using film and audio to enhance a certain sense of presence while capturing her own research process.

Starting at the Portuguese Savage Islands, she created a case study of mapping colonial histories through tracking natural biodiversity. You lay down on these large cushions and you feel like you’re floating through the sea. With their technological lenses, her perspective and the special cameras one can see layers of life activity that human eyes cannot. Diana wants our bodily experiences to be affected and transformed; these experiences become a liquid substance similar to water. The materiality of the artworks contribute to a feeling of being inside the Ocean and thinking from within.

A beautiful must-see during this year’s Biennale in Venice, which aims to reclaim space for speculative thinking about our ecological future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *