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Exhibition: Joan Jonas – Moving Off the Land II at Ocean Space in Venice

Text by CLOT Magazine

Joan Jonas, Moving Off the Land, 2016/2018, Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture/Justine Elephan, San Francisco (2019)

Two new TBA21–Academy commissioned exhibitions will open to the public in March: Joan Jonas’ Moving Off the Land II at Ocean Space and The Current II: Deep Sea Minding: A Desert In Pink, in Venice and California, respectively. Established in 2011 by Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, TBA21–Academy is a platform that leads interdisciplinary practitioners into commissioned research projects that explore maritime life and oceans through art and science. The ultimate aim is to develop innovative solutions to tackle current threats to aquatic ecosystems.

Joan Jonas – Moving Off the Land II at Ocean Space, Chiesa di San Lorenzo (Venice), opens from March 24 to September 29 in the European city of Venice; the exhibit will be Open Space’s inaugural project. Curated by Stefanie Hessler, Moving Off the Land II ends three years of arduous research by occupying the 500 meters that once constituted the square of the Venetian San Lorenzo church. The immersive project will set off with a live performance on the 7th of the same month, coinciding with the 58th Venice Biennale opening, which Jonas presented two years before this installation.

Through her work, Joan Jonas has questioned complex relations of current key relevance, such as that of humanity and the environment. Moving Off the Land II, in particular, explores the ocean as a totemic, spiritual, and ecological touchstone. Before this project, the artist was already familiarised with the topic: She had not only produced her own pieces of footage in different aquariums all over the world but held dialogues on sustainability with field experts such as biologist David Gruber. Her style often merges prose pieces from writers like Emily Dickinson with texts by Sy Montgomery, recordings of her own voice and moving images from aquatic ecosystems footage.

The Current II: Deep Sea Minding: A Desert In Pink is hosted in Palm Spring, California, and open its doors on the 9th and 10th of March. Deep Sea Minding is a Superflex initiative that, through interdisciplinary design practices, explores the concepts of globalisation and intersectionality– a led project birthed under a three-year fellowship with TBA21–Academy. This interdisciplinary project engages scientists, artists and field experts on marine life to produce work under the umbrella of the main threat: Sealife inhabiting our current living spaces could become tangible as we see seawater levels rise.

As the responsible party for such environmental deterioration, we must take responsibility on fully preparing to adapt to the future lifestyles that might arise. This project’s research is aimed at exploring solutions for sub-aquatic living. Deep sea Minding reveals a pink future as humans prepare to attract coral polyps, or what should be known as the flourishing ecosystems facilitators of our near future. The full programme will be announced soon.

(Media courtesy of TBA21-Academy)
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