August 24, 2020 - TBA21–Academy - Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation
August 24, 2020


Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation, commissioned by TBA21–Academy. Installation view at Ocean Space (work in progress). Photo: Territorial Agency. 

Territorial Agency, When above…, 2020. A light installation on the façade of Ocean Space, Church of San Lorenzo, marks future sea-level locked in by global warming—+6m in the next century—and calls attention to the vulnerability of the oceans and the human communities dependent on its wellbeing. Commissioned by TBA21–Academy.

Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation, commissioned by TBA21–Academy. The rapid depletion of the coastal ecosystems of the Mississippi Delta, combined with sea-level rise scenarios. © Territorial Agency.

Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation, commissioned by TBA21–Academy. Melt ponds on the ice sheet of Greenland, ESA Sentinel data elaborated by Territorial Agency © Territorial Agency.

Territorial Agency
Oceans in Transformation
August 27–November 29, 2020

Messy Studio—Mediterranean Deep Space: Post-continental perspectives: August 28, 4–6pm, a non-hierarchical encounter across disciplines
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TBA21–Academy is pleased to announce the reopening of its Venice venue, Ocean Space, with the exhibition Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation, curated by Daniela Zyman, on Thursday, August 27, 2020. Commissioned by TBA21–Academy, the foundation that drives a rigorous art-science practice and cross-disciplinary research to support artistic imagination and ocean advocacy, the exhibition inaugurates the second season at Ocean Space in Venice, striving to contribute to the reawakening of Venetian cultural institutions. 

Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation synthesizes three years of research to unfold one of the most extensive readings of the Anthropocene ocean to date. The project explores new ways of connecting research groups that address the oceans at a time of rapid change, linking science, arts, and politics by way of shared images, datasets, and narratives. The research project has unfolded over several years through interactions with hundreds of scientists, research institutions, intergovernmental organizations, scholars, activists, policymakers, and artists. 

Oceans in Transformation re-assembles scattered knowledge about the oceans along complex geographical trajectories. The trajectories indicate the intricate interrelations between forms of the Earth System and forms of human cohabitation. As they span the planet, they reveal the magnitude of the impact of human activity on the oceans. They offer a momentary glimpse into humans’ relation to a multiplicity of oceans in transformation, and a premonition about the future of these relationships. They indicate how fragmented and incoherent the knowledge of the oceans still is, forming an invitation to collaborate and think together how to safeguard the future of the oceans and their cohabitants. 

Oceans in Transformation aims to find different forms of collaboration to bring together things that we imagine are apart. The research project indicates how we need to imagine the oceans as a principal component of a living planet, limit human activity—fishing, transport, and extraction—in the high seas, and allow marine environments to regenerate. Solutions to face the threats facing the future of the oceans are known: what is missing is the imagination to act. 

“We talk about the oceans as a plural. The diversity of the oceans is not only a multiplicity of different viewpoints. While there is only one vast body of water with interconnected circulations, human understanding is fragmented and scattered and produces a multiplicity of apparently incompatible oceans. Hence, the primary intention of Oceans in Transformation is to bring together as many of these modes of being of the oceans as we can and start forming a collaborative space.”
—Territorial Agency

Addressing the changing habitats directly on the transforming waterline, sea-level rise projections based on reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are visualized throughout the exhibition as well as on the facade of Ocean Space: When above…, a light installation by Territorial Agency has been unveiled this May to call attention to the latest predictive models of sea-level rise. A LED horizon marks the future sea-level locked in by global warming—+6m in the next century—and calls attention to the vulnerability of the oceans and the human communities dependent on its wellbeing.

“Attempting to visualize the planet from a post-continental vantage point means abandoning a set of hierarchical conceptions which not only describe spatial and cultural relationships but more so, conditions of dominance: West/East—land/ocean—Global South/Global North—but also culture/nature; naming conventions and translations; and other manifold forms of racial/sexual/gender/spatial/spiritual/aesthetic/economic/etc. normativities.
Daniela Zyman, curator 

Digital program of Oceans in Transformation
In the past months of global lockdown, TBA21–Academy adapted the exhibition and redirected its programming online onto Ocean Archive, striving to ferment dialogue and establish an evolving knowledge resource on the far-reaching transformations of the oceans. The activities included Messy Studio sessions—virtual peer-to-peer gatherings conceived by Territorial Agency mobilizing critical thinking and research, Tavolas, a space for discussion, organized and promoted by the participants of the 2020 Ocean Fellowshipfreq_wave: seven seas, a collaborative web-based sound installation developed around Oceans in Transformation's seven trajectories, and a series of essays co-edited with e-flux Architecture


About TBA21–Academy
TBA21–Academy is a cultural organization investigating environmental injustice against the ocean through the lens of art. The Academy instigates intersectional and collaborative research, artistic production, and new forms of knowledge, resulting in commissions, exhibitions, and pedagogic programs. Commissioning and producing research-led projects for nearly a decade, TBA21–Academy has grown an extensive network of ocean practitioners and experts from the fields of science, policy, law, big data, and indigenous scholarship. 

About Ocean Space
Located in the former Church of San Lorenzo in Venice, Ocean Space opened in March of 2019 as a new planetary center for catalyzing ocean literacy, research, and advocacy through the arts. Established and led by TBA21–Academy and building on its expansive work over the past nine years, this new embassy for the oceans fosters engagement and collective action on the most pressing issues facing the oceans today. In 2019, Ocean Space exhibited Joan Jonas’s Moving Off the Land II and will reopen following a period of refurbishment with Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation. The recent opening of the platform highlights the need for a deeper understanding of the city’s complex relationship with the ocean.

About Territorial Agency
John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog are architects and urbanists. They established Territorial Agency, an independent organization that combines architecture, analysis, advocacy, and action for integrated spatial transformation of contemporary territories. Territorial Agency is engaged to strengthen the capacity of local and international communities in comprehensive spatial transformation in an age of climate change—the Anthropocene. Recent projects include Museum of Oil with Greenpeace, ZKM Karlsruhe, and the Chicago Architecture Biennial; Anthropocene Observatory with HKW Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin; the Museum of Infrastructural Unconscious; North anon; Unfinishable Markermeer; Kiruna. They teach at the AA Architectural Association School of Architecture, London.


Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation, August 27–November 29, 2020
Curated by Daniela Zyman 
Commissioned TBA21–Academy and co-produced with Luma Foundation
Supported by Lunu Solutions

Opening hours
Wednesday–Sunday 11am–6pm
Free entrance
Please visit for the latest information in order to organize your visit.

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Oceans in Transformation
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