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Ocean Space

Chiesa di San Lorenzo

Castello 5069

30122 Venezia


Rebecca Belmore, and Harald Gaski


Matti Aikio, Liryc Dela Cruz, Ursula Johnson, Fernanda Olivares Molina, and aqui Thami


Co-produced with Schmidt Ocean Institute, co-founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt.

"A tiny candy-stick coloured pygmy pipehorse discovered in fall 2021 in a small area off New Zealand’s north coast has been given a Maori name. The local iwi (tribe) was the first Indigenous group to formally name a new species of animal. In an overdue recognition of traditional knowledge, this is the first animal in the world to have the naming authority include a tribal name." (Eva Corlett for the Guardian, October 6, 2021)

Names are important, as are the stories carrying on these names, the stories that need telling and call for being listened to. TBA21–Academy’s Ocean Fellowship 2022 is conceived as a collaborative effort to share relations with the Ocean in different parts of the planet and to recognize their differences and common grounds. We aim to engage with Indigenous perspectives upon what is and what could be the Ocean and how bodies of water should be treated from an Indigenous perspective.

Co-produced with Schmidt Ocean Institute, co-founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, and in collaboration with The Sámi Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022, the Office for Contemporary Art Norway, and aabaakwad, the Ocean Fellowship 2022 gathers participants to consider our kinship and duties of care toward the Ocean and its relations in multi-species communities and with diverse lifeforms. What are our responsibilities toward the Ocean? How can thinking from the Ocean build radically inclusive environments? Indigenous perspectives are brought to the center of our work to define resurgent values, forms, and stories and intertwine knowledges of the past, present, and futures of the Ocean we are all in relation with and dependent upon.

TBA21–Academy is delighted to announce the five selected fellows: Matti Aikio, Liryc Dela Cruz, Ursula Johnson, Fernanda Olivares Molina, and Aqui Thami. The participants were selected by an international jury composed of the two Ocean Fellowship mentors: artist Rebecca Belmore and ​​Professor of Sámi Culture and Literature Harald Gaski; along with Brook Andrew, artist; Katya García-Antón, director and chief curator, Office for Contemporary Art Norway; Wanda Nanibush, curator, Indigenous art, Art Gallery of Ontario; Markus Reymann, director of TBA21–Academy; and Megan Tamati Quenell, Curator of Modern & Contemporary Māori and Indigenous Art at the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand.

“What we expect to get out of the time together in Venice is a productive sharing of ideas from several cultural and professional backgrounds which will manifest itself in artistic and scholarly outcomes that will inspire to further contemplation of the relation between human practices and environmental sustainability. We aim to deal with these issues collectively as a group and from a magnitude of ideas and experiences, which will include discussions of Indigenous peoples ways of seeing and being, represented in the view of how oceans, rivers, lakes, and inland all belong together and function together in a wholeness that is needed in order to keep Mother Earth alive and thriving.”
–Rebecca Belmore & Harald Gaski, Ocean Fellowship 2022 Mentors.

The Ocean Fellowship facilitates connections across the diverse localities, knowledges, and oceanic routes of its fellows and mentors, who will spend time together at TBA21–Academy's Ocean Space in Venice exploring opportunities to learn through oceanic Indigenous methodologies that will also reach a wider audience through the Academy’s ecosystem: Ocean Space, Ocean-Archive.org, and OCEAN / UNI. The Fellowship continues to bring attention to storytelling as a methodology, as an action that portrays and conveys a territory, a mindset, and a substance, encouraging intergenerational exchange, building resilience in communities.



  • Rebecca Belmore
  • Harald Gaski


  • Matti Aikio
  • Liryc Dela Cruz
  • Ursula Johnson
  • Fernanda Olivares Molina
  • aqui Thami


Program co-produced with: