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"Sassolini" (detail), 2013, Matteo Rubbi, Ph. Leonardo Chiappini


5. The secret sea | البحر السري



Ocean Space
Admission fee
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Fifth appointment of the new cycle of itinerant conversations "Venice as a model for the future?".

With the title "The lagoon / has the moon / between its legs / playing ball" (after a poem by Etel Adnan, from her book From A to Z, Post-Apollo Press, 1982), this series intends to explore how humans and more than humans co-exist in Venice and its lagoon after dark, when the wave of daily visitors leaves the city, nocturnal birds start to sing, beacons are switched on some boats to catch mullet and cuttlefish, and the moon dictates the movement of tides.

The secret sea | البحر السري

There is a whole part of the night sky that hides the sea.

This sea exists only at night, made up of stars and seemingly deserted spaces. At the latitudes of the Mediterranean this secret sky is almost completely submerged, it emerges cyclically on the horizon, rising along the arc of the ecliptic, without ever betraying it, and then sinks again, underground or underwater. The abysses of this sea remain deep below, invisible and monstrous, as big as the whole sky under our feet. The faint line of the Hydra is a demarcation, a border, the basis of the world.

It seems strange to observe the sea looking at the sky, to glimpse in that iridescent reflection, the complex intertwining of the first urban and agricultural cultures, together with nomadic ones. All this scattered, contradictory knowledge suggests that identities are more like segments, broken lines, waves that push other waves rather than easily identifiable roots clinging to solid ground.

This stratified knowledge that was born between Persia and Mesopotamia, between the Gulf and the Mediterranean was ordered and described by important astronomers such as Al-Sufi in his Book of Fixed Stars. This, together with other sources, will be the starting point of the workshop: a book from the 10th century. These waves and this sea are still there, almost illegible today, like heavily faded frescoes.

The proposal consists of a naked-eye observation workshop of the night sky during a walk that takes us to a place that is sufficiently dark and free from light pollution. The aim of the workshop is to make this sea re-emerge in our eyes and in our imaginations by recomposing maps, fragments, hypotheses, and stories, then weaving the threads that connect this secret sky to us and to our lives today.

Zeyn Joukhadar

Zeyn Joukhadar is a Syrian American writer. He is the author of the novels The Thirty Names of Night, which won both the Stonewall Book Award and the Lambda Literary Award in Transgender Literature, as well as The Map of Salt and Stars, which won the Middle East Book Award and was a Goodreads Choice Awards and Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize finalist. His work has appeared in Electric Literature, Salon, The Paris Review, [PANK], and elsewhere and has been anthologized in Letters to a Writer of Color, This Arab Is Queer, and other publications. He has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Joukhadar serves on the board of the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI) and mentors emerging writers of color with the Periplus Collective. He has received fellowships and residencies from the Montalvo Arts Center Lucas Artists Program, the Arab American National Museum, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Camargo Foundation, the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, and the Santa Fe Art Institute. Joukhadar is currently adapting The Thirty Names of Night as an immersive theater piece, commissioned by Noor Theatre Company. Originally from New York City, he lives and works between Italy and the United States. Learn more at www.zeynjoukhadar.com.

Matteo Rubbi

Matteo Rubbi is a visual artist. In 2005, he graduated in Fine Arts at Accademia di Brera, Milano, with Alberto Garutti, and in 2007 he co-founded Cherimus, a non-profit art association based in Sardinia, which works to contribute to the development of the social and cultural heritage of the Sulcis region (south-west Sardinia, Italy) through contemporary art. In 2011, Rubbi won the 8th Furla Prize, and in 2015 he was selected for the public art program ArtLine in Milan. He had solo shows at institutions such as FRAC Corsica, Corte, France; CAC La Sinagogue de Delme, Delme, France; Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice; GAMeC, Bergamo; Combine Studios ASU Art Museum, Phoenix; Museo Burel, Belluno. He has participated in group shows and special projects at Centre Pompidou, Palais de Tokyo, Musée Bourdelle, Paris; IAC, Institut d'art contemporain, Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes; CRAC Alsace, Atlkirch; CNAC Le Magasin, Grenoble; MAXXI, MACRO, Rome; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; PAC, GAM, MUDEC, Fondazione Arnaldo Pomodoro, Isola Art Center, Milan; GAMeC, Accademia Carrara, Bergamo; MAN, Nuoro. Rubbi has received fellowships from Le Pavillon du Palais de Tokyo (2009); ASU Art Museum, Phoenix, US (2012); LAP, Montalvo Art Center, Saratoga, US (2017-2019); Camargo Foundation, Cassis, France (2020). He lives and works in Italy. Learn more at www.matteorubbi.com.


Part of the cycle “Venice as a model for the future? - The lagoon / has the moon / between its legs / playing ball”.

"Venice as a model for the future” is a cycle of itinerant conversations, curated by Barbara Casavecchia and Pietro Consolandi and guided by activists, scientists, and guardians of this body of water and its inhabitants. This year's series, titled “The lagoon / has the moon / between its legs / playing ball” (again inspired by a poem by Etel Adnan), moves into the twilight and the silence of the night, exploring how humans and more than humans co-exist in Venice and its lagoon after dark.