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The Soul Expanding Ocean #4: Diana Policarpo

Ciguatera  — 

  • Admission

    Free of charge

  • Opening date

  • Location

    Ocean Space


    Chus Martínez

TBA21–Academy presents a solo exhibition dedicated to the artist Diana Policarpo at Ocean Space. The exhibition is part of a two-year curatorial cycle entitled The Soul Expanding Ocean by Ocean Space’s 2021 and 2022 curator Chus Martínez.

Working primarily with sound and installation, Diana Policarpo’s work is informed by the artist’s study of nature and history, contributing to a distinct artistic and aesthetic language. For her newly commissioned work at Ocean Space, Policarpo will be developing a scenographic installation. The commission takes its point of departure from a research trip to the Portuguese Savage Islands, located between the Madeira archipelago and Canary Islands, that became a case study of mapping colonial histories through tracking natural biodiversity.

Central themes for studying the landscape of rocks include empathy for the Ocean and environmental health. Shown through video, audio and drawings on the microbiota of the Ocean, Policarpo conveys an aesthetic sensing of the landscape while offering a conceptual understanding of the problems the coast faces, including the algae and fish that inhabit it. Her work is unique in telling an almost sci-fi story, modifying the way we commonly see the natural world by actively engaging the viewer to feel textures, sense images, and to immerse oneself in conditions of light.

This new work marks a jump in scale and ambition to constitute Policarpo’s biggest sculptural installation to date, giving the artist an opportunity to unfold her artistic vocabulary in full. In her treatment of sculpture, transparency and fluidity play a key political and aesthetic role. She wants our bodily experiences being affected and transformed; these experiences becoming a liquid substance similar to water and able to respond to the settings created by the artist. The materiality of the artworks contributes to a feeling of being inside the Ocean and thinking from within.

Diana Policarpo: Image from research trip to the Portuguese Savage Islands. Courtesy of the artist. “The Soul Expanding Ocean #4: Diana Policarpo” is commissioned and produced by TBA21–Academy.

'Our eyes become lenses, we see like a microscope, we see like a camera recording the depths of the seas, we see like a drone. Diana Policarpo plays with our physical presence in space to render visible the many ways the Ocean makes sense to life. The installation is an island, a wild island, untouched by humans.' - Chus Martínez


Diana Policarpo, is a visual artist and composer working in visual and musical media including drawing, video, sculpture, text, performance, and multi-channel sound installation. Policarpo investigates gender politics, economic structures, health, and interspecies relations through speculative transdisciplinary research. She creates performances and installations to examine experiences of vulnerability and empowerment associated with acts of exposing oneself to the capitalist world. Her work has been exhibited worldwide including solo presentations at Kunsthall Trondheim; Galeria Municipal do Porto; Centro de Artes Visuais, Coimbra; Galeria Lehmman + Silva, Porto; Belo Campo/Galeria Francisco Fino, Lisbon; GNRtion, Braga; lAB Artists Unlimited, Bielefeld; Kunstverein Leipzig; Xero, Kline and Coma, London; Kunsthall Baden-Baden among others. Policarpo has recently exhibited, performed and screened her work at st_age (Thyssen- Bornemisza Art Contemporary); Maus Hábitos, Porto; Interstício, London; Nottingham Contemporary; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Elvas (MACE); ARCOmadrid; Chiado 8, Lisbon; Kunsthall Oslo (with Marie Kolbæk Iversen); LUX - Moving Image, London; Cafe OTO, London; Guest Projects, London; Tenderpixel, London; Shau Fenster, Berlin; Mars Gallery, Melbourne; Peninsula Gallery, New York; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London and W139, Amsterdam. Policarpo was the winner of Prémio Novos Artistas Fundação EDP 2019 and the illy Present Future Prize 2021.


Chus Martínez is head of the Art Institute at the FHNW Academy of Arts and Design in Basel, and in 2021-22, the Curator of Ocean Space, Venice, TBA21–Academy’s center for catalyzing ocean literacy, research, and advocacy through the arts. Previously, she led The Current II (2018–20), a project initiated by TBA21–Academy. The Current is the inspiration behind Art is Ocean, a series of seminars and conferences held at the Art Institute which examines the role of artists in the conception of a new experience of nature.