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Digital initiative

Tavola: What’s In A Name? An exercise in togetherness



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

How and why do we name, and learn to name, things, places, bodies of water and beings in a given way? And in accordance with whose culture, histories, ecologies and interests are these names naturalised and categories codified? What agencies, affects and associations does the indelibility of naming and nomenclature give rise to and perpetuate—and which might they otherwise?“

The Humboldt Current” — denotes the seventh and final unfolding oceanic Trajectory within Territorial Agency’s exhibition Oceans in Transformations.

Taking this route and with this specified designation as a thematic and metaphorical point of departure, Tavola 7 presents a collective video piece created by the fellows and mentors of the Ocean Fellowship 2020 so as to layer different stories and perspectives revolving around the question of naming.

Beyond ocean currents; a vast proliferation of animals, plants, fungi, rivers, mountains, places and even extraterrestrial bodies, today bear the name of the 19th century Prussian scientist. We collectively enquire as to the persistence of this taxonomy in our current moment of crisis by charting contemporary histories that tell different stories about a common world but with uncommon histories. As Dipesh Chakrabarty writes, “A crisis that concerns humanity as a whole cannot ever be adequately addressed if the issues of justice, power, and inequality that divide and fragment the same humanity are overlooked in the narratives we tell ourselves”. The next and final Tavola will comprise a screening of this video and ensuring dialogue as well as a collective reflection amongst the fellows over the experiences of collaborating through oceanic enquiries over the previous three months.


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.