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Tavola: Dirty Business & Sunken Lions, Inc.

Industrialization on the Mediterranean coast and its archeological landscapes



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

"Dirty Business & Sunken Lions, Inc.: Industrialization on the Mediterranean coast and its archeological landscapes" is the first "Tavola" organized by the participants of the 2020 Ocean Fellowship.

Inspired by a longue-durée analysis, "Dirty Business & Sunken Lions, Inc." was developed by Ocean Fellows Pietro Consolandi (in collaboration with Asmaa Barakat), Elisa Giuliano, and Pietro Scammacca. It zooms in on the North Sea to Red Sea trajectory included in the exhibition, by focusing on a triangle connecting the South of Italy to the Nile Delta. Through poetry, documentary films, and archival material, the Tavola explores a possible “sub-trajectory” connecting the Italian coastal cities of Taranto and Gela with Alexandria in Egypt. The title refers to the polluting extractivist practices and profit-oriented geoengineering carried on by steel and iron manufacturing giant ILVA in Taranto and the Italian multinational oil and gas company Eni in Gela. The sunken lion is a reference to a sculpture that was found in 2000 by underwater archeologist Franck Goddio in the flooded city of Heracleion, a few kilometers east of Alexandria. Heracleion was a prosperous city during the Pharaonic era, and was submerged in the VII century CE after a series of natural catastrophes. Today it lies in the sea as a grim prophecy for contemporary Mediterraneans.

Extractivism, non-local economic exploitation, and instrumentalized definitions of identity along the Mediterranean coasts are pushing local populations to the point of ecologic, social, and cultural collapse, following a pattern metaphorically reminiscent of Heracleion. What can we learn from its history? Firstly, that it is necessary to reexamine the forms of representation that have created our very idea of the history of the region. Archeology, for example in Fascist-funded campaigns to find Roman ruins in Libya, has essentially functioned as a justification for imperialism. Visual artifacts and documents from the past do not speak with the univocal voice they have been attributed, they are rather a polyphony open to interpretation: Where do we start digging?


The "Tavola" are conceived as a space (without walls) for discussion. They are organized and promoted by the participants of the 2020 Ocean Fellowship created by TBA21—Academy within the context of Territorial Agency’s exhibition “Oceans in Transformation” at Ocean Space, in Venice, and its manifestation on Ocean Archive. Each Tavola intersects autonomously the Trajectories identified by Territorial Agency.

This event was conceived and coordinated by researchers Elisa Giuliano, Pietro Scammacca, Pietro Consolandi under the supervision of the two mentors Barbara Casavecchia and Louise Carver. Click here for more information about the Ocean Fellowship program.

Asmaa Barakat

Asmaa Barakat is a visual artist who graduated with a B.F.A. from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Alexandria University, 2012. She is experimenting with different media and ideas of perception. Taking the viewer and the artwork into consideration, she recreates situations in which the two meets. She participated in Mass Alexandria studio and study program 2016 and participated in Photo Cairo 6 exhibition 2017. She was one of the artists selected for the Dak'Art Biennale in Dakar, Senegal, 2018 and received an MFA from Oslo National Academy of The Arts, Oslo, Norway, 2019.

Pietro Consolandi

Pietro Consolandi is an artist, writer and curator with education in political theory (MSc at the University of Edinburgh) and visual arts (MA at the IUAV University of Venice). His practice strives to blur the boundaries between these two disciplines. His recent works approach issues connected with the Anthropocene and the great climate acceleration, analyzing how late-stage capitalism critically strikes the world through chaotic action and irresponsible development. Primarily as part of the collective Barena Bianca, his practice uses art as a resistance tactic in Venice, highlighting how global networks of research and activism are essential to understand and tackle issues that are simultaneously ecological and sociological in nature.

Elisa Giuliano

Elisa Giuliano is a dancer, researcher, and architect. Currently working mainly as a researcher and exhibition designer, she maintains a parallel practice in architecture and choreography. Since 2018, she has been developing a research-based project on labor systems and the control of the female body. Based on a historical case study of factory labor in Italy, the project focuses on the physicality of the female workforce and the patriarchal nature of capitalism. She has also examined the role of modern architecture as a disposition to control bodies in the broader context of capitalist production. As a member of Open Design School, she was in charge of the research, exhibition design, and production for various projects in Matera, the European Capital of Culture 2019.

Pietro Scammacca

Pietro Scammacca holds a BA in art history from Goldsmiths, University of London and has completed his MA in global conceptual art at the Courtauld Institute of Art. His thesis focused on notions of animality in conceptual art in Italy. His research interests revolve around posthumanist studies and critical ecologies, in particular new materialist philosophies. He is the founder of UNFOLD, a nonprofit cultural organization based in Sicily which aims to rearticulate Baroque culture through artistic projects.