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Digital initiative

Messy Studio: Cities-to-come on the Asian coastlines



On Ocean Archive and on Ocean Space and TBA21–Academy Facebook pages

From the chokepoint at the Malacca Strait to the Gulf of Thailand, from Singapore to the coast of China, and from Taiwan to Japan and beyond to the Bering Strait, the Metropolitan Asia trajectory examines the effects of human activities on the coastal regions of the Asian Pacific. According to Territorial Agency, the seas of Asia can be called metropolitan. They are witnessing an extreme intensification of port-based and seaborne activities equal in magnitude to the rapid urbanization of its littoral. Coastal zones have experienced massive urban expansion in recent decades and are extremely susceptible to climate-related urban vulnerability. Sea level rise by the end of the century, as forecast by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), would submerge lands currently occupied by 470 to 760 million people globally, mainly in East Asia, and affect the livelihoods of more than 1.5 billion people.

“Sea level rise will be the largest project over the coming thirty years facing the future of human cohabitation. We might have just enough time to radically modify the areas that are going to be flooded into vast new spaces for sheltering populations and containing water, as well as large improvements to the biosphere that can lead to carbon sinks and repristinate marine and land ecosystems and their ecotones,” write Territorial Agency.[1]

Departing from the intersections of architecture, critical spatial practices, art and activism, this Messy Studio will host a discussion on Asia’s coastal Anthropocene and the way it shapes the future of urban living. Architect and chief curator of the Shanghai Biennale Andrés Jaque will introduce his research and practice in relation to fluid collectivities beyond the binaries of “flesh and land”, of the human and non-human. Traditional practices and myths around trans-species alliances will be the focus of You Mi’s intervention, as metaphors for thinking beyond the current developmental deadlock from a larger geographical and politico-economic background of Eurasia. Alvin Li and Julian Junyuan Feng will take as a starting point the visual representation of Hong Kong’s sea-girt environment to dive into the histories of land reclamation and the futures of the city in relation to their upcoming project, “Liquid Grounds”, to open at Para Site later in 2020. Artist Rhine Bernardino will introduce her research on sea nomadic communities and address the ways in which the current development directly affects the communities she has been working with, in the broader conflictual context of the Philippines and China’s artificial island. Reflecting on state and border controls created from colonialism, nationalism, and capitalism, Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salina will talk about their ongoing walking interventions in the North Jakarta Coastline, proposing eight ways to penetrate the borders of Singapore, inspired by historical acts of seafaring, smuggling, subversion, and ‘sumpah’ (oath / promise).

[1]Territorial Agency, “When Above,” e-flux Architecture (June 2020).


4–6 pm CET
Messy Studio:Cities-to-come on the Asian coastlines

Presentations by Rhine Bernardino, artist; Andrés Jaque, architect, Office for Political Innovation; Alvin Li and Julian Junyuan Feng, curators, “Liquid Ground” exhibition; You Mi, curator and researcher; Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salina, artists. With Territorial Agency, Markus Reymann, Daniela Zyman, and the participants of the Ocean Fellowship Program.

The event will be live-streamed on Ocean-Archive.org and TBA21–Academy and Ocean Space Facebook pages.

More about the event: www.ocean-archive.org