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Digital initiative

Messy Studio: So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish—the Humboldt Current



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

The ocean’s seabed is a habitat that serves to sustain all other parts of the ocean’s ecosystems, a layer of organic particles and nutrients enmeshed in the sand of this soft ocean soil. Over half a billion years the seabed has evolved into a rich interdependent system that is central to the sustainment and reproduction of life in the oceans. In their intervention, paleobiologists Jan Zalasiewicz and Mark Williams will assess the role of the “ocean soil” and the ephemeral complexity of its ecosystems, endangered by anthropogenic transformations consequent to extractivist processes that are depleting the habitat of innumerable life forms essential to ocean health. Zalasiewicz and Williams think from within a geological time-scale to address deep-time shifts and processes and imagine possible futures for the oceans. Their research raises one of the fundamental questions around the contradictions of the role technology plays in these transformations—on the one hand an essential techno-scientific apparatus for re-thinking ocean conservation and forms of care, and on the other hand, an arsenal of tools that has made possible exploitative processes that are exhausting life in the oceans.

Continuing along these lines, following the circulation of the Humboldt current, this Messy Studio will be an occasion to assess the pervasive threat of deep-sea mining. Former director of the Office of Environmental Management and Mineral Resources at the International Seabed Authority (ISA), Sandor Mulsow will address future challenges for protection of the seabed, with insights into how UN agencies can collaborate on the goal of promoting a healthier and lively ocean. At the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission in 2018 Mulsow stated that the ISA “can provide all the information it has been collecting in recent decades, in particular in deep sea areas in international waters where few countries have capacity to do science. We sample 1.3 million square kilometers every year so we can support the science-based activities.”[1]

Radically different ethical-poetic practices of ocean conservation and advocacy will be explored by researcher Camila Marambio, director and founder of the international collective Ensayos (Spanish for “inquiries”, “essays,” or “rehearsals”). Marambio will describe the interdisciplinary nature of Ensayos, centered on the ecopolitics of the archipelago Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Artists, scientists, activists, policymakers, and local communities collaborate on investigations around this remote and extreme territory. This Messy Studio will be an occasion for presenting the research behind one of Ensayos’ recent projects, the hydrofeminist drama Cucú and Her Fishes. The play is a fictional and speculative tale, meant to present an undisciplined approach to research. Imagining expedition to the bottom of the sea, the play investigates and develops novel ecofeminist perspectives of ocean health and advocacy. In this collaborative work, Marambio has fostered a multi-linguistic and co-creative approach to performance as a method to think through more-than-human worlds. The fiction and the process of storytelling and performing become an active platform to imagine new routes to ocean advocacy as well as a mode of engagement that embraces and crafts multispecies sensitivities.

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish is the note left behind by the world’s dolphin population upon departing for another life shortly before planetary destruction in Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It stands here for the extinction of oceanic biodiversity and life of all kinds.

[1]Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, “UN ocean family sets the stage for greater collaboration” (March 29, 2018), http://www.unesco.org/new/en/media-services/single-view/news/un_ocean_family_sets_the_stage_for_greater_collaboration/.


6–8 pm CET
Messy Studio: So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish—the Humboldt Current

Presentations by Irene Kopelman, artist; Camila Marambio, director of Ensayos; Sandor Mulsow, marine geologist; Mark Williams, paleobiologist; Jan Zalasiewicz, paleobiologist. 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