TPA Ocean. A response to TBA21-Academy's Ocean Archive
24 April - 8 May 2020

TPA Ocean is a sub-group of The Political Animal created in 2019 in repsonse to TBA21-Academy's online platform Ocean Archive launched at Ocean Space in Venice in September of the same year. Our first screening is taking place online in light of the current global pandemic; it is a chance to share works that engage directly with the theme of World Ocean widely and openly, and to begin anew the conversation about the importance of working with the natural world, not against it, to build a more sustainable life for everyone.

When last year I was recovering from an injury in social and physical isolation, I remembered the words of Epeli Hau’Ofa, who wrote that in Oceanic people’s thinking the Ocean is a connecting being, not a dividing entity. This thought helped me feel less isolated and more rooted and connected to the world through feeling the earth under my feet and by looking at the stars at night. No doubt the Earth herself needs healing, and some say the situation we are currently in is helping with this. But, at the core of that sentiment still lies a dividing mark between us, the people, and her/them - the Earth and all other living beings. I hope that from this crisis we can learn to care for those more vulnerable than ourselves and find ways to heal together.

Please watch these films in the order they are presented. They will take you on a journey from mythology and storytelling through scientific engagements with ocean species to current ecological collapse and ocean futures beyond the human.

- Olga Koroleva, April 2020

 

Valinia Svoronou

Like a Rock Like a Wave Like the Sea (2019)  is the phrase used to describe Medea’s nature in Euripides’ tragedy. This narrative video bears the same title as it is a retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Talos (part of the Argonaut excursion) as re-imagined from Medea's perspective. It aims to explore an the continuous oscillation between her emotional landscape and the marine setting of the times that she inhabits an alien woman and envoy in that particular ecosystem. Her identity is portrayed as liquid and mysterious bleeding into her own tragic love story and fate. The film aims to explore ideas around the survival of the romantic point of view and landscape in a contemporary world encumbered by the reality of ‘nature’ as we know it becoming obsolete.  

Film script is available to read here. More about the work on the artist's youtube page.

Korallia Steridges

Whale For An Ear (2017, 3mins 14secs) is an abstract representation of the ocean and how it resonates with an idea of home. Placing the artist's father, a Northern Cypriot refugee and amateur magician, at the centre of the work, the film brings into question reality and  fiction. Spoken narration weaves together anatomical descriptions of whales, ecological facts and poetry; whilst animated segments explore the surfaces of three objects - a fragment of driftwood and two shells, found on a beach in San Francisco. These renderings allow us to shift our perception of these objects and experience them as both body and site. The drain pipes lining the architecture of Steridges' home denote a liminal space that sieve autobiographical narrative, myth and scientific fact, and become gateways between the Macrocosm and the Microcosm. She takes apart the process of rendering a relic to excavate micro narratives in scaled out measurements of faux fossils. Archiving an antiquity that does not in its entirety represent the bathymetry of our Grandfathers ocean terrain.

Whale For An Ear was part of STOP PLAY RECORD programme. Produced by the ICA in association with Chisenhale Gallery and partnership with Channel 4 Random Acts, funded by Arts Council UK.

More about the work on the artist's vimeo page.

Natalia Janula

what is your hemocyanin level (2020, 4mins, 15secs) reflects on relationship between humans and a creature which has been treated until very recently as a living natural resource - Limulus polyphemusthe. The film provides a speculative voice for our protaginist - the horseshoe crabs who amongst an affectionate conversation with their 'partner' also questions it's human captors who only want the precious blood that flows through their body. 'what is your hemocyanin level' floats between several different worlds. We drift from a watery algae covered landscape to a scientific documentary intertwined with interiors of a victorian glass house and hybrid computer generated creatures. The crab is imagined as a dancer restrained - who longs only for the freedom and joy of movement in it's oceanic habitat, in which the crab'sunique physiology can truly shine.

More about the work on the artist's vimeo page.

Sonia Levy

'Hafrún is the name given posthumously to the oldest known ocean quahog. At the time of being captured, Hafrún was 507 years old, having lived through all three historical eras that have been proposed to mark the beginning of the Anthropocene: the Western colonial invasion of the Americas, the Industrial Revolution, and the 20th century Great Acceleration. Like the growth rings of trees, ocean quahogs’ shells carry a detailed record of the conditions in which the clams have lived. The shells are now studied as material archives that capture centuries of environmental change and, with paradigms developed by the IPCC, they are analysed to forecast ecological futures of the planet.

The two-channel video installation portrays the laboratory process of collecting data from ocean quahogs’ shells. The rigorous process of extraction and analysis is paired with underwater footage from a series of hydrothermal vents at an unusually shallow depth near the northern coast of Iceland. It is near these vents where Hafrún was found over a decade ago.'

- extract from a text by Nella Aarne, co-founder of Obsidian Coast, where Hafrún (2019, 13mins, 24secs) is screening until 7 May.

More about this work on the artist's website.

AENNOR

Fathomless, Part I (2019, 5mins) explores the diversity of ocean and seashore organisms and dwellers and comments on the pervasive environmental issues and extinction caused by plastic pollution and single-use waste. The film is the collage-like accumulation of the video material filmed between 2016 and 2019 by the artist themselves and accompanied by the original sound piece. The imagined journey of a plastic bottle through the land, across the water arteries and into the depths of the sea tells a present-day story of the mankind dependency on synthesised materials. Moreover, it attempts to show how our behavioural patterns result in the immeasurable harm to all the living organisms and ecosystems. The film contrasts the disposable to the pristine, clashing the snippets of man-made environments and marine debris with the glimpses of wildlife, remote islands and subsea activities. Fathomless is equally a portrayal of the ocean as something unfathomable, dynamic, hybrid, changeable, the largest habitat to the multiplicity of life forms that is extremely sensitive and have to be protected from the violences of the Anthropocene era. 

More about this work on the artists' website.

Olga Koroleva

Whale watching (2019, 3mins 26secs) imagines a future where marine animals have adapted to the now extremely polluted waters, and are the only survivors on the post-ecological collapse Earth. Filmed at a mobile dolphinarium in Tula, Russia, Whale watching is part of an ongoing moving image and research project Patterns of Care and aims to draw further attention to the continued use of marine mammals for entertainment worldwide. 

More about this work on the artist's website.

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Looking towards TPA Ocean futures: TPA Ocean respondens are AENNOR, Matthew Beach, Helen Frosi, Natalia Janula, Beckie Leach, Sonia Levy, Lucy A. Sames, Korallia Steridges, and Valinia Svoronou.

We are working with Arts Catalyst to present future iterations of TPA Ocean. Matthew Beach, co-curator of TPA Ocean, will present a new cinematic work Bloom:

Bloom [working title] is a developing cinematic project born out of Beach’s ongoing PhD project Connective Tissues: (Un)lively Materialities of Gelatine and Collagen. The larger thesis stories practices of gelatine and collagen production and consumption across industrial and consumer uses. These two related biological materials are derived from animal matter; most commonly cows, pigs, and fish. Recent advances in fishery and laboratory technology have now also made rendering jellyfish into these materials possible. This is noteworthy because the frame of production shifts from the ongoing (re)production of animal bodies in order to produce these materials to that of a frame managing a new surplus of gelatinous bodies. As our world continues to descend into climactic catastrophe, conditions become ripe for other kinds of beings to thrive (jellyfish); due to rising sea temperatures, overfishing of predators, and decreased oxygen levels.

A creative practice-based offshoot of Beach’s PhD, Bloom [working title] offers a filmic object to think-with the various legislative, ecological, and biotechnological changes emerging around new industries built upon jellyfish gelatine and collagen. The project follows three different species of jellyfish, reflecting three different sites of production and consumption — the barrel jellyfish off the Welsh coast, the cannonball jellyfish off the coast of Georgia in the United States, and the Nomura’s jellyfish in Tokyo Bay. It will be composed of varying genres, including site-specific performance documentation, ethnographic filmmaking, filmic essaying, and ethological practice. Bloom [working title] is an attempt to practice a field philosophy oriented towards examining the more-than-human care ethics (dis)embodied through jellyfish fishing, following the intercontinental supply chains resulting in new commodities.

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Title image on previous page: Fathomless, Part 1 (still fragment from 4K video) by AENNOR © 2019
 
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