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The Soul Expanding Ocean #1

Taloi Havini  — 

TBA21–Academy presents a solo exhibition dedicated to the artist Taloi Havini 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.

Taloi Havini was born in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, in the South West Pacific Ocean. Currently based in Australia, her work takes on many forms, including sculpture, film, photography, and immersive audio-video installations. A central element to her work are the human actions that occur over time and space. In all mediums, her practice perpetuates the desires for Indigenous Knowledge Systems to undermine the persistent colonial structures that aimed to annihilate them. She delves deeply into themes of representation, inheritance, habitats, and epistemologies of Oceania.

In November and December 2020, Havini was a resident of Schmidt Ocean Institute's Artist-At-Sea program, observing the mapping of the Great Barrier Reef with state of the art technology on the R/V Falkor. Current global ambitions to map the world's seafloor by 2030 are gaining momentum. This process uses multibeam sonar systems that produce never seen before high-resolution cartography. Representation of habitat in this form is considered mark-making - and it is a western scientific race for knowledge as seen by the artist. In response, Havini researches how sound and other senses are used beyond western science as tools for measuring space. The intention is to reveal diverse narratives from non-European cultures, asking audiences to attune the senses and reconsider current knowledge of the oceans.

The commission for Ocean Space is Taloi Havini most ambitious solo exhibition in Europe. Created under conditions of restricted travel imposed by Covid-19, preparing the exhibition required a fresh imagination of distance and presence. Responding to this, Havini’s new commission by TBA21–Academy, Answer to the Call (2021), aims to revitalize and give presence to a multitude of experiences in a space-time continuum amidst intersecting trajectories, pastimes, and lessons in deep-time listening.

A twenty-two-channel sound piece, the work uses an ancient compositional technique that produces a dialogue between these different ways of knowing through a method of a call and response. Through the inclusion of her own Hakö language and instruments that conjure her navigational ancestors, Havini moves beyond a sonic measuring of space and distance, asserting the presence of a much deeper, cyclical understanding of the ocean, space, and time. The track evolves to include archival sources, such as hydrophone recordings of sonar mapping taken on the R/V Falkor, ocean traveling chants, and an instrumental piece composed by renowned Bougainville musician Ben Hakalitz.

For the exhibition The Soul Expanding Ocean#1: Taloi Havini, the artist invites her audience to reflect on these concepts. Like the ocean, this conversation will be refreshed throughout the course of the exhibition as new audiences enter, and a program of conversations takes place.

The ways in which societies approach the ‘ocean’ is an expression of the value given to life itself. Utilizing sound and other sensory mediums, Havini asks the audience to reconsider evolution. In deep-time listening, a continuum is created. The sound and the experience embody Ocean Space through sequences created by the artist, but it remains within the visitors, evolving and as a physically embodied memory.

Taloi Havini, Answer to the Call, 2021. Exhibition view The Soul Expanding Ocean #1: Taloi Havini, Ocean Space, Venice. Commissioned by TBA21–Academy and co-produced with Schmidt Ocean Institute, co-founded by Wendy Schmidt. Photo: gerdastudio

The Soul Expanding Ocean #1: Taloi Havini has been curated by Chus Martínez, TBA21–Academy’s newly appointed Curator of Ocean Space for 2021-2022, following her leadership of the Academy’s program The Current, in which Havini participated. This three-year fellowship program sets out to strengthen the friendship between artists, scientists, activists, and policymakers. Friendship is a key notion since it implies a mutuality among different practitioners based on affection, a deep commitment to staying in touch, and staying attentive to each other's work. And so, The Soul Expanding Ocean, the exhibition program TBA21–Academy initiated with Havini's new commission should be seen as the continuation of this collective effort to understand the Ocean through the senses, analyze the possibilities with affection, and propose future scenarios intertwining imagination with knowledge.

"The Soul Expanding Ocean #1: Taloi Havini" is commissioned by TBA21–Academy and co-produced with Schmidt Ocean Institute, co-founded by Wendy Schmidt. The development of this new work was supported by an Artspace Studio Residency.

Taloi Havini, Answer to the Call, 2021. Exhibition view The Soul Expanding Ocean #1: Taloi Havini, Ocean Space, Venice. Commissioned by TBA21–Academy and co-produced with Schmidt Ocean Institute, co-founded by Wendy Schmidt. Photo: gerdastudio

TALOI HAVINI

Taloi Havini (b. 1981, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea) currently lives and works in Sydney, Australia. Havini's work is often a personal response to the politics of location exploring contested sites and histories connected within Oceania; employing photography, sculpture, immersive video and mixed-media installations. Working with living contemporary practitioners, she is actively involved in community projects in Bougainville and Australia.

SCHMIDT OCEAN INSTITUTE

The Schmidt Ocean Institute was established in 2009 and offers scientists and collaborating institutions free ship time aboard their research vessel Falkor. The Institute strives to advance the frontiers of ocean research and exploration through technological innovation, operational support, and open sharing of information. Schmidt Ocean Institute's Artist-at-Sea program was established in 2015 so that artists from broad disciplines could work together with scientists to gain inspiration from the research and share about complex ocean issues in new ways. Since 2015, over 36 artists have voyaged aboard the research vessel Falkor, and more than 100 pieces have been showcased in 16 exhibits in 12 cities.