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The Soul Expanding Ocean #4: Diana Policarpo

Ciguatera  — 

  • Admission

    Free of charge

  • Location

    Ocean Space


    Chus Martínez


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    by TBA21–Academy and Centro de Arte Moderna Gulbenkian, in collaboration with Instituto Gulbenkian Ciência.


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TBA21–Academy, in collaboration with Centro de Arte Moderna Gulbenkian (CAM) and Instituto Gulbenkian Cieência, 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.

For her newly commissioned work at Ocean Space, Diana Policarpo is developing a multimedia installation, using film and audio to enhance a certain sense of presence while capturing her own research process. Taking her point of departure from a research trip to the Portuguese administered Ilhas Selvagens (Savage Islands) in the North Atlantic Ocean, Policarpo creates a case study of mapping colonial histories through tracking natural biodiversity.

With their technological lenses, cameras can see layers of life activity that human eyes cannot. Embedded in the very substance of the installations, these films become another sculptural material and, as such, they have the same function: to create a dramaturgy where we understand that science is implicated in colonial processes and entangled in power relations. While microorganisms have formed part of myths since ancient times and storytelling has a filmic quality, one could say that in both installations the camera is closer to a mouth that tells than to an eye that records.

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.

Exhibition view “The Soul Expanding Ocean #4: Diana Policarpo. Ciguatera”, Ocean Space, Venice, 2022. Commissioned by TBA21–Academy. Co-produced by TBA21–Academy and Centro de Arte Moderna Gulbenkian, in collaboration with Instituto Gulbenkian Ciência.
© Matteo De Fina

'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: Image from research trip to the Portuguese Savage Islands. Courtesy of the artist. The Soul Expanding Ocean #4: Diana Policarpo. Ciguatera is commissioned by TBA21–Academy and co-produced with Centro de Arte Moderna Gulbenkian, in collaboration with Instituto Gulbenkian Ciência.


Diana Policarpo at the studio of the scenographer Rinaldo Rinaldi, work in progress for the “Ciguatera” exhibition at Ocean Space (Chiesa di San Lorenzo, Venice), Castelfranco Emilia, 2022. Photo: Enrico Fiorese. Courtesy of TBA21–Academy.

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.

Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian

Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian is an international Foundation with statutory aims in the fields of the arts, education, charity and science. Operating from its headquarters in Lisbon and its delegations in Paris and London, a major focus is climate change, as our greatest and most urgent challenge. The Foundation has a museum and a modern art centre, an orchestra and a choir, an art library and archive, and a scientific research institute.

Its Centro de Arte Moderna (CAM) was founded in 1983 as a site for experimentation as well as to house the collection of Modern and Contemporary Art acquired since the 1950s. In 2023, CAM will celebrate its 40th anniversary and reopen to the public with a reformulated building by Kengo Kuma and an extended garden by Vladimir Djurovic.

The Instituto Gulbenkian Ciência (IGC) is dedicated to biological and biomedical research and innovative postgraduate training, placing science at the heart of society. It aims to understand how the organism is formed and interacts with its environment, leading to novel approaches towards disease treatment and world sustainability.