Press Release

Acclaimed Artist Armin Linke Exposes Contemporary Challenges Facing Our Oceans Through Rare Deep-Sea Footage and Expert Commentary

Event Date: 
23 May 2018 to 30 September 2018
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New TBA21–Academy commission opens in Venice this May in collaboration with the Institute of Marine Sciences of the National Research Council of Italy (CNR-ISMAR)

Coinciding with the launch of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, TBA21–Academy in collaboration with CNR-ISMAR presents an investigative exhibition by the filmmaker and photographer Armin Linke exploring contemporary challenges facing our oceans. Drawing upon rare footage of the deep-sea and interviews with leading scientists, policymakers, and legal experts, the exhibition scrutinizes the aesthetics of technoscientific apparatuses and grapples with the tension between ecological protection of our oceans and political and economic exploitation. 

Marking the culmination of a three-year research project with TBA21–Academy, Linke’s Prospecting Ocean presents a rich choreography of multimedia footage and archival materials exhibited in the former headquarters and laboratory spaces of the Institute of Marine Sciences (CNR-ISMAR), including several multi-channel video installations and a new series of photographs. A montage of rarely seen images of the ocean floor—captured by remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROV) at a depth of up to 5,000 meters—visually juxtaposes the “natural” seabed with the machinery used to extract resources such as deep-sea minerals. Legally defined as common heritage of humankind, these so-called resources have formed over millions of years; deep-sea vents are considered the location of the origin of life. From highly detached images of machinery and clinical incisions in the seabed to assemblies at the UN and infrastructural apparatuses, Linke exposes submarine sites that are commonly invisible and accesses the meetings of decision makers that are usually closed off to the public. Scrutinizing the institutions administrating the seabed, Linke deconstructs the idea of a marine-based blue economy and policy commonly supported by governments. 

At CNR-ISMAR, the footage filmed by Linke and his team is presented alongside behind-the-scenes interviews of leading biologists, geologists, and policymakers, as well as footage of activist movements in Papua New Guinea, inviting the viewer to consider the implications of deep-sea mining and other excavations on both the environment and communities. Linke lays bare an intricate network of dynamics, dissecting how information is negotiated between scientific, legal, and economic entities and institutions, on both local and international levels.

Prospecting Ocean also features a selection of primary documents and books from the CNR-ISMAR historical library selected by the institute’s scientists and critical texts analyzing the legal, political, and economic infrastructures presiding over the allocation of ocean resources. Taken together, the project scrutinizes the administration of the oceans and exposes the simultaneous fascination with and alienation from technologies that map, visualize, and exploit resources in the sea.




May 23, 3 – 6pm 

Organized by Curator Stefanie Hessler, and including a presentation by Armin Linke, this in-depth symposium brings together leading experts to illuminate political, economic, environmental, and cultural issues addressed in Prospecting Oceans. Speakers include: Franco Farinelli, professor of Human Geography, University of Bologna, Joey Tau, media and campaigns officer Pacific Network on Globalization (PANG), Ute Meta Bauer, Professor, NTU School of Art, Design and Media, and Founding Director NTU CCA Singapore, and Florian Schneider, head of department Trondheim Academy of Fine Art at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) among many others. 

Roundtable Conversations

Thursday and Friday, May 24 and 25, 3 – 5pm 

Prospecting Ocean is being activated during its inaugural week with a series of public programs and roundtable conversations organized by Territorial Agency, an independent organization founded by John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog that promotes sustainable territorial transformations. These activations take the form of lectures, conversations, and object-making drawn from data sourced from CNR-ISMAR’s research archive. 

A publication with additional research and newly commissioned texts, edited by Stefanie Hessler, will be launched in early 2019



Prospecting Ocean (2018) by Armin Linke Commissioned and produced by TBA21–Academy in partnership with CNR-ISMAR. Curated by Stefanie HesslerArchitecture by Kuehn MalvezziGraphic design by Mevis & van DeursenExhibition production by AltofragileLocal coordination by Troels Bruun and Luca Delise (M+B studio srl)Project management by David Hrankovic and María Montero Sierro (TBA21–Academy)

The project has been realized in collaboration with Giulia Bruno (camera, editing), Giuseppe Ielasi (sound, editing), Renato Rinaldi (sound), and Kati Simon (project management). 

Prospecting Ocean is made possible in collaboration with CNR-ISMAR–Istituto di Scienze Marine in Venice and institutions such as GEOMAR – Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology.



Istituto di Scienze Marine (CNR-ISMAR)Riva dei Sette Martiri, 1364 30122 Venezia, Italy

Wednesday, May 23 – Sunday, September 30, 2018

  • Press Preview on Tuesday, May 22, at 10 am

Special Inaugural Week Hours

  • Wednesday, May 23: 3pm – 8pm
  • Thursday, May 24 – Sunday, May 27: 10am – 8pm 

Regular Hours:

  • Wednesday – Sundays: 11am – 7pm
  • Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays

Free and open to the public. 



Armin Linke is a photographer and filmmaker whose body of work analyzes the formation of our natural, technological, and urban environment. Throughout his twenty-year career, Linke's work has investigated how mankind uses technology and knowledge to transform and develop the Earth's surface. His films and photographs are observations of the changes humans have made to the land, oceans, and biosphere. Born in 1966 and based in Berlin, Linke has served as a Research Affiliate at MIT Visual Arts Program Cambridge, guest professor at the IUAV Arts and Design University in Venice, and professor for photography at the University for Arts and Design Karlsruhe.

Prospecting Ocean emerges from Linke’s long-term Anthropocene research and his participation in three expeditions to the Pacific Ocean with TBA21–Academy’s exploratory program The Current. It was first presented in an early iteration as an official project of the Year of Science 2016*17—Seas and Oceans, a program of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. 



Founded by Francesca von Habsburg and drawing on her experience as a producer of cross-disciplinary art installations and socially engaged cultural programming, TBA21–Academy leads artists, scientists, and thought-leaders on expeditions of collaborative discovery. Its mission is to foster a deeper understanding of our ocean through the lens of art and to engender creative solutions to its most pressing issues. Led by Director Markus Reymann, the itinerant Academy commissions interdisciplinary research that catalyzes engagement, stimulates new knowledge, and inspires artistic production. Established in 2011, the nonprofit’s program is informed by a belief in the power of exchange between disciplines and in the ability of the arts as a vessel for communication, change, and action.



The Institute of Marine Sciences (ISMAR) is a research institution which is part of the Italian National Research Council (CNR), a public organization committed to carry out, promote, spread, transfer, and improve research activities in the main sectors of knowledge growth and of its applications for the scientific, technological, economic, and social development of the country. ISMAR conducts research in polar, oceanic, and Mediterranean regions, focusing on: the influence of climate change on oceanic circulation, bio-geochemical cycles, and marine productivity; the evolution of oceans and their continental margins, studying submarine volcanoes, faults, and slides and their potential impacts onshore; submarine habitats and ecology, and the increasing pollution of coastal and deep-sea environments; the evolution of fish stocks with a view to sustainability; natural and anthropogenic factors impacting the ocean.


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Installation of Armin Linke’s OCEANS - Dialogues between ocean floor and water column, a previous iteration of Prospecting Ocean, at Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art, Oldenburg, 2017.

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