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The Waves of the Oh!s and the Ah!s

TBA21–Academy, The Current II, Chus Martínez, Convening #1


Ocean Space
Admission fee
Free of charge

TBA21–Academy presents two-days of performances and lectures curated by Chus Martínez, Expedition Leader of the second cycle of The Current; the first of three annual Convenings exploring the theme Spheric Ocean. Commissioned and produced by TBA21–Academy. Supported by Art Institute, FHNW Academy of Art and Design in Basel.

Think about the Ocean as you think about a relationship. We know that humans are bad at being faithful, infidelity has a tenacity that faithfulness can only envy. If you ask about Nature or the Ocean, everyone would be ready to declare their love, or our dependency, and yet we cheat on the seas, on water, on resources, on the images, on life. Ocean Adultery has many forms, and historically it has been—as Anthony Burgess describes it— “the most creative of sins.” We deplore the many times and many ways we were unfaithful to the Ocean, and yet prohibition only fuels the eagerness with which we consume our forbidden apples—or better said, our forbidden waters, fish, corals, sea beds, and human lives…. We need to face this: If we keep failing to meet our own standards, the solution is simply to try harder. This exercise cannot happen without thinking through a question: Who is the injured party? One would say the Ocean, but would that be to demonize our actions without pausing to explore our motives? Without learning how to weather its occurrence?
 Inspired by the history of fear, power abuse and its relation to the elements rather than only to the humans, and drawing on the thinking of many poets, writers, and philosophers about the importance of the complaint to raise awareness, the first day of our convening will be structured as a lament: a collective performance where activists and artists give body, form, and voice to what we lament. Lamenting the Ocean, but also current forms of inequality, considering how gender and racial inequality are in complete entanglement here.
 On the second day, the lamenting voice will raise an Awe. Admiration, reverence, a series of acts, performances, and lectures on the issues we admire, on all in life that bring us to this strange space of generosity, since to admire means to go out of oneself.


Diva Amon, a marine biologist and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow at the Natural History Museum, London, UK, is interested in the weird and wonderful animals living in a range of deep-sea habitats and how our actions are impacting them.

Julieta Aranda is an artist whose work revolves around time, memory and how different media languages recall a more encompassed notion of life.

Cecilia Bengolea is an artists choreographer and dancer that deals with empathy systems, ways of merging through the body and movement experience with nature, with the ocean.

Claudia Comte is an artist dealing with the memory of materials, with the wisdom of the rural, of nature, of the ways technology can serve to preserve the traditional through sculpture.

Francesca von Habsburg is the founder and Executive Producer of Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21) and its sister organization TBA21–Academy. Francesca is of the belief that art has the power to serve as an agent of change. Most recently, Francesca has become increasingly engaged in environmental issues, with a particular emphasis on the oceans.

Markus Reymann is the Director and Co-Founder of TBA21-Academy. As a central programming unit of TBA21, TBA21-Academy’s mission is to foster interdisciplinary dialogue and exchange surrounding the most urgent ecological, social, and economic issues facing our oceans today.

Marah Hardt is a scientist and storyteller, who works at the crossroads of research, creative communication, and strategy to build a sustainable future for people and the sea. Her last book is Sex and the Sea (2017).

Donna Kukama is an artist that both through objects and performance addresses the possibility of introducing a completely new form of sensing that would help us to deal with the past, to renew our imagination, our words, our social behaviour.

Chus Martínez is a writer and curator head of the Institut Kunst in Basel. She is currently also an Expedition Leader of the second cycle of TBA21–Academy fellowship The Current.

Ingo Niermann is a writer and the editor of the speculative book series Solution. He is currently writing a Solution Oceans well as about to release the sequel of Army of Love, a film he did together with Alexa Karolinski, film director.

Mathilde Rosier is an artist whose work deals with how modification in life can be achieved. Working in painting, performance and film, she is interested in ways of trespassing, of life interpenetrating mater and vice-versa.

Georgia Sagri is an artist who has been focusing on performances and installation work dealing with empathy, mimicry, and the potentiality of transformation, both in the social and the biological sense.

Christina Samoka Eu Tony comes from a volcanic island that is currently active. Manam Island is located 13 kilometres off the Northern coast of Madang Province, Papua New Guinea. She works with the community-based Bismarck Ramu Group in the campaign's program with the aim of creating spaces for resistance communities to come together and share their stories.