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OCEAN / UNI “Imagine the Ocean Dry as Lavender”

Mediterraneans as hotspot for climate change and adaptation

Biweekly on Wednesday from 6 to 7.30 pm
Admission fee
Free of charge

Online registration


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Lectures will be held in English

With a title inspired by the evocative verses of Egyptian-Lebanese-French poet Andrée Chedid (Imagine / La mer, / Sèche comme lavande)[1], the Spring semester of OCEAN / UNI 2022 focuses on the Mediterranean basin as an Anthropocenic hotspot and on building critical approaches to thinking about and engaging with the region.

There are as many Mediterraneans as there are demarcations of the complex geographies, histories, ecologies and geopolitical conflicts composing this neuralgic region, constantly resisting homogenization.[2] While the Mediterranean Sea is now described as a “solid” space whose liquid borders are enclosed, fenced and surveilled by the EU to stop the free circulation of migrant bodies[3], the Mediterranean climate - above and below the water surface - is mutating at such a tumultuous pace[4] that its expanding perimeter is blurry and increasingly difficult to draw. This expanding area is warming up 20% faster than the global average[5]; distant shores are now connected by heat waves, aridity lines and seasonal droughts, the rich marine biodiversity is being eroded, and the rapid decline of oxygen, nutrients and biomasses in the water is described as a process of ‘desertification’. What is then to be unlearned and relearned by situating our observations within an aquatic Mediterranean perspective?

Considering “the Mediterraneans” as a plural, transnational region in transformation, relying on watery networks composed of basins, rivers, coastlines and wetlands, helps us realise that they function as a constellation of distinct, yet interconnected ecosystems. Such systems, “multispecies webs” and “uneven landscapes”, as Anna Tsing points out[6], need to be understood in their specificity, before being translated on a planetary scale.

The seven sessions adopt a transdisciplinary and decolonising[7] approach, inviting Mediterranean scientists, activists, artists and practitioners to share their knowledges and perspectives. By connecting accelerating anomalies in the water cycles, specific case studies and situated actions, OCEAN / UNI departs from the present to reflect on possible adaptations and imaginable futures. To look at the Mediterraneans as a paradigm, while non-localizing their shifting condition, means to look at many other middle seas and ecosystems of the globe.


[1] From: Andrée Chadid, Imagine, 1968, in Textes pour un poème, Flammarion, 2014, p. 259. Translated into English in: Women of the Fertile Crescent: An Anthology of Modern Poetry by Arab Women, edited and translated by Kamal Boullata, Three Continents Press, 1978, p. 7.
[2] David Abulafia, The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean. Oxford University Press, 2011.
[3] Multiplicity, Solid Sea, 2002. Commissioned by Documenta 11. Founding members Stefano Boeri, Maddalena Bregani, Francisca Insulza, Francesco Jodice, Giovanni La Varra and John Palmesino.
[4] IPCC, Regional Fact Sheet: Europe in Sixth Assessment Report, Working Group I - The Physical Science Basis, 2021 LINK
[5] UN Environment Programme, Information and Communication Regional Activity Center, 2020, The Mediterranean is a Climate Change Hotspot, LINK
[6] Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Andrew S. Mathews and Nils Bubandt, Patchy Anthropocene: Landscape Structure, Multispecies History and the Retooling of Anthropology, LINK
[7] Gabriele Proglio (ed. by), Decolonising the Mediterranean. European Colonial Heritages in North Africa and the Middle East, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017.


The program is intended for adults from any background and eager to engage in ecological, political, aesthetic, ethical, and scientific conversations around the futures of the oceans. Lectures will be held exclusively in English, so a good listening and speaking level is recommended to ensure a meaningful learning experience.

The curriculum is open to anyone with an interest in deepening their knowledge, understanding, and experience of the research topics unfolded in the curatorial fellowship program The Current III “Mediterraneans: ‘Thus waves come in pairs’ (after Etel Adnan)”. The first stream of The Current III cycle is led by Barbara Casavecchia as a transdisciplinary and transregional exercise in sensing and learning with by supporting situated projects, collective pedagogies, and voices along the Mediterranean shores across art, culture, science, conservation, and activism.


Initiated by Daniela Zyman, OCEAN / UNI is a collaborative project developed by TBA21–Academy for higher education institutions, independent researchers, practitioners, and Ocean enthusiasts that encourages building a far reaching network and developing a transdisciplinary methodology. Established in the fall 2020 as part of the activations around the exhibition "Territorial Agency: Oceans in Transformation" curated by Daniela Zyman, OCEAN / UNI is conceived as a pedagogic space that invites thinking with the oceans as a way to move towards more amphibious formulations, beyond land-sea binaries.

The proposed format of study revolves around biweekly sessions
supported by smaller, more intimate workshops, hosted digitally. The program is open to a group of pre-registered public participants, university groups, guests, and moderators connected via Zoom, the ocean comm/uni/ty, and Ocean-Archive.org



Wednesday 9 February, 6–7.30 pm CET
First session
Prologue: On transformative narratives for climate justice

Wednesday 23 February, 6–7.30 pm CET
Second session
Coastal ecosystems: mutations and solutions


Wednesday 9 March,6–7.30 pm CET
Third session
Aridity, politics and poetics of Mediterranean water cycles


Wednesday 23 March, 6–7.30 pm CET
Fourth session
A breathless sea. The intricacies of water pollution


Wednesday 6 April, 6–7.30 pm CET
Fifth session
Rights to more-than-humans! The legal case for the Mar Menor lagoon


Wednesday 27 April, 6–7.30 pm CET
Sixth session
Against nature? Challenging norms, redefining rights


Wednesday 11 May, 6–7.30 pm CET
Seventh session
On Mediterraneization: different latitudes, same issues



The spring semester of OCEAN / UNI 2021-2022 is curated and developed by Barbara Casavecchia, Leader of The Current III - “Mediterraneans: ‘Thus waves come in pairs’ (after Etel Adnan)”; Pietro Consolandi; Justine Daquin and Zoé Le Voyer (Calypso 36°21), former Ocean Fellows; and ​​Beatrice Forchini, Assistant Curator, TBA21; alongside Petra Linhartová, Head of Digital & Development, Michal Kučerák, Digital Content Manager; and Markus Reymann, Director of TBA21–Academy. Graphic design: Lana Jerichová, bruno. Produced with care by the TBA21–Academy team.


  • Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia, Italia
  • Columbia University, NY, Stati Uniti
  • GEO—DESIGN, Design Academy Eindhoven, Olanda
  • Hochschule Mainz: University of Applied Sciences, Germania
  • Institut Kunst, FHNW Academy of Art and Design, Basilea, Svizzera
  • Salon Swiss / Bern University of Applied Sciences, Svizzera
  • NABA, Milano, Italia