Press Release

TBA21–Academy unveils details on 2018 programming encompassing expeditions, new commissions, and cross-disciplinary symposia dedicated to ocean conservation and advocacy

PDF icon Download PDF (557.65 KB)
Download PDF to read the full Press Release >

Highlights of February – June 2018 season include:

  • The first major collaboration with Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid in honor of the museum’s 25th anniversary with a special presentation of John Akomfrah’s immersive video installation exploring climate change
  • Timed to the opening of the Venice Architecture Biennale, the premiere of Armin Linke’s new multi-channel video work on the ocean, featuring rare footage from five thousand meters below and expert interviews, at the Istituto delle Scienze Marine
  • The presentation of a live performance by Joan Jonas as part of her landmark survey at Tate Modern, which was originally commissioned, developed, and performed in 2016 in Kochi, India, as part of TBA21–Academy’s The Current Convening #2
  • A new video series by Inhabitants on deep-sea mining commissioned by TBA21–Academy and premiering as part of The New Museum Triennial, Songs for Sabotage 
  • A series of interdisciplinary workshops with artists, architects, and curators at the Dhaka Art Summit led by artist Nabil Ahmed and held in collaboration with the Samdani Art Foundation and Harvard University’s South Asia Institute
  • The opening of the exhibition Oceans at Le Fresnoy in France, featuring new and recent work by some 20 artists—including Doug Aitken, Tue Greenfort, and Camille Henrot—many of which resulted from the artists’ travels with TBA21–Academy 
  • The publication of a new compendium, co-published with MIT Press, inspired by research surrounding the exhibition Tidalectics, and including new research and seminal essays by Epeli Hau‘ofa, Stefan Helmreich, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, and Philip E. Steinberg among others 
  • The launch of the second cycle of The Current, TBA21–Academy’s fellowship program that brings thought-leaders on interdisciplinary voyages throughout the Pacific, with curator Chus Martínez and artist collective SUPERFLEX 


TBA21–Academy announced today new details about its upcoming program through spring 2018, including new commissions and performances, cross-disciplinary symposia, and expeditions throughout the Pacific that foster new oceanic research, discoveries, and public engagement. Convening cultural producers with researchers, scientists, and policy-makers, the next six months include the foundation’s first-ever collaboration with the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which was established 25 years ago by the father of TBA21 Founder and Executive Producer Francesca von Habsburg, and the debut of a major new commission by Armin Linke on the deep-sea that will open in Venice coinciding with the Architecture Biennale. The first half of 2018 also sees the launch of the next phase of TBA21–Academy’s signature fellowship program, The Current, which leads thought-leaders from diverse disciplines on expeditions throughout the Pacific, with the aim of conceiving innovative solutions to the most pressing issues facing the oceans today.  

Founded in 2011 by Francesca von Habsburg and building on her work with Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21), TBA21–Academy expands the nonprofit foundation’s practice of producing socially engaged commissions, exhibitions, and publications, to advance a deeper understanding and awareness of the ocean through the lens of art. Harnessing the power of the arts to catalyze action and change, TBA21–Academy’s innovative program promotes transdisciplinary practice, collaborative knowledge production, and policy-making in support of our oceans. 

 “Since our inception in 2011, TBA21–Academy has fostered critical interdisciplinary discussion on a global level about the fate and the current state of our ocean,” said Markus Reymann, Director of TBA21–Academy. “Our program has drawn an overwhelming response from a wide-ranging network of experts and artists who have contributed generously, sharing their individual skill sets, time, and experience, because they believe in the benefit of taking a holistic approach to exploring the effects of climate change and in contributing to a collective and inclusive process of solution-finding.”

“With the formation of TBA21–Academy, we merged the mandate of Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary—which, for over a decade, has commissioned new artworks and projects that explore issues of social and environmental justice, cultural identity, and human rights—with a value system of concerned citizens about the plight of our oceans,” said von Habsburg. “TBA21–Academy’s programs seek to explore critical environmental issues through the lens of art, inciting a movement of creative thinkers and doers that are ready to face opposition and uncover new solutions with integrity and  collaborative spirit.”

Details on TBA21–Academy’s upcoming season follow below.

Inter-Pacific Ring Tribunal 

February 2 – 4, 2018

Dhaka Art Summit, Dhaka, Bangladesh

As part of the opening program of the Dhaka Art Summit, artist Nabil Ahmed presents a series of interdisciplinary workshops addressing issues of environmental injustices and ecocide. Organized by TBA21–Academy and INTERPRT, and inspired in part by his research and work as an expedition fellow on The Current led by Ute Meta Bauer, the panels include:

  • Rising Oceans and Conflict: From Bangladesh to Planetary Scale (February 2, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.) Artists, architects, and curators explore the agency of cross-disciplinary research on oceans and examine the efficacy of Forensic Architecture on gathering and presenting evidence on environmental destruction. 
  • Unfolding the Pacific Ring with Nabil Ahmed, Sugata Bose, and Cosmin Costinas (February 4, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.)

Presented within the exhibition space of A beast, a god, and a line, curated by Cosmin Costinas for Dhaka Art Summit 2018, this discussion encourages participants to draw parallels between oceanic histories reimagined through geology and climate, rather than national boundaries. This event is a collaboration between TBA21—Academy, Samdani Art Foundation, and Harvard University’s South Asia Institute.  

Océans. Une vision du monde au rythme des vagues 

(Oceans. A Worldview at the Rhythm of the Waves)

February 9 – April 22, 2018

Le Fresnoy, Tourcoing, France

Oceans brings together the work of over 20 artists who explore the cultural, political, and biological dimensions of the oceans, examining the effects of human-made issues, such as climate change and rising sea-levels, and reimagining human’s relationship to the planet. Curated by Stefanie Hessler, Oceans marks an exciting expansion of Tidalectics, which was the first exhibition to be mounted by TBA21–Academy, and features new commissions, many resulting from the Academy’s expeditions in the Pacific Ocean, alongside exceptional works from the TBA21 collection by artists whose practice is deeply anchored in the oceanic space, and former residents at Le Fresnoy, including Doug Aitken, Tue Greenfort, Camille Henrot, Eduardo Navarro, and Susanne M. Winterling, among others. 

What is Deep Sea Mining? by Inhabitants with Margarida Mendes 

February 13 – May 27, 2018

Debuting as part of The New Museum’s 2018 Triennial, Songs for Sabotage 

The New Museum, New York, NY

Mariana Silva and Pedro Neves Marques created Inhabitants as an online channel for exploratory video and documentary reporting. Their unique collaboration with TBA21–Academy results in a new video series dedicated to investigating and interrogating deep sea mining. Comprised of five short videos, the first episode, entitled Tools for Ocean Literacy, debuts at the New Museum Triennial and coincides with a one-day program of talks on February 17 (from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.) that further delves into policy and environmental activism. Free and open to the public, the event will be structured into two hour-long debates and bring together environmental activists, marine experts, scientists, and NGO representatives. 

Following its premiere at the Triennial, each episode in the webseries will be available to view online at; Tools for Ocean Literacy will be uploaded February 2018 and the next video in the series, The Blue Economy, A New Gold Rush? will be available from April 2018.

Purple by John Akomfrah

February 20 – March 25, 2018

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid, Spain

TBA21 marks its first-ever collaboration with the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid with the installation of Purple, a major multi-channel video work by British artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah. The immersive and thought-provoking video installation—Akomfrah’s most ambitious to date—explores climate change, rising sea levels, and extreme weather events in the age of the Anthropocene. Set to a hypnotic soundscape, the work intersperses hundreds of hours of archival footage with newly shot film, much of which was taken during voyages of Akomfrah’s team with TBA21–Academy throughout French Polynesia in December 2016.

The installation is organized in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, founded by von Habsburg’s father, Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza. Opening to coincide with ARCOmadrid, Purple marks the first time that the work of a living artist is being exhibited at the museum and is curated by Chus Martinez.  

Purple is commissioned by the Barbican, London and co-commissioned by Bildmuseet Umeå, Sweden; TBA21–Academy; The Institute of Contemporary Art / Boston; and Museu Coleção Berardo, Lisbon.

Oceans—Dialogues Between Ocean Floor and Water Column by Armin Linke

May 22 – September 31, 2018

Istituto delle Scienze Marine (ISMAR) in Venice, Italy

Armin Linke’s multi-channel video work Oceans—Dialogues Between Ocean Floor and Water Column emerges from his long-term Anthropocene research and participation on three expeditions to the Pacific Ocean with TBA21–Academy’s exploratory program The Current, on invitation of the curator Ute Meta Bauer. In the work, interviews with leading scientists and researchers are juxtaposed with rarely seen images of the deep sea and ocean floor, which have been recorded by a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), used by biologists and geologists to explore the ocean in a depth of up to 5,000 meters. Linke directs our attention towards the predicaments facing the oceans, in particular the tension between ecological protection and political and economic exploitation.

The complete work, which was initially presented in preview format 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, will be on view at the Istituto delle Scienze Marine (ISMAR) in Venice, Italy. It marks an important return to Venice for the artist, who was awarded Special Prize for best work in the German Episodes section at the 9th International Architecture Exhibition in 2004. Curated by Stefanie Hessler.

Moving Off the Land by Joan Jonas 

May 31, 2018

Presented in conjunction with the survey exhibition Joan Jonas

Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, London, UK

As part of the artist’s survey show at Tate Modern, Joan Jonas presents a live performance at the Turbine Hall. Moving Off the Land is the development of a performance originally commissioned, developed, and performed at The Current Convening #2 in Kochi, India, in December 2016. A collaboration between TBA21–Academy and Tate, the performance continues to deepen and develop with each iteration, and offers the opportunity to experience Joan’s work in a unique way. 

Tidalectics. Imagining an Oceanic Worldview through Art and Science

Published by TBA21–Academy and The MIT Press 

Building upon research and critical thought that emerged surrounding the development of the eponymously titled exhibition organized by TBA21–Academy, Tidalectics presents seminal historical texts alongside new research on one of the world’s most important and currently threatened ecosystems—the ocean—by key voices whose work is deeply anchored in the oceanic space. Contributors including Tamatoa Bambridge, Kamau Brathwaite, Epeli Hauʻofa, Astrida Neimanis, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Philip E. Steinberg, and Davor Vidas offer perspectives from a diverse range of disciplines, such as art, law, geography, oceanography, architecture, anthropology, and Oceanian philosophy. The anthology, which is jointly published with MIT Press, is edited by Stefanie Hessler.  

The Current 

Spring and Summer 2018

The Pacific Ocean

The TBA21–Academy fellowship program is a pioneering initiative that cultivates transdisciplinary practice and the exchange of ideas, bringing thought-leaders from diverse fields on expeditions throughout the Pacific. Taking inspiration from the ocean tides, the program is called The Current, organized in three-year cycles, and led by curators (Expedition Leaders) selected by TBA21–Academy. Expedition Leaders guide one expedition annually and propose fellow participants to join on the journeys aboard the Dardanella. Leaders and participants subsequently contribute to a Convening, held approximately six months after each expedition,that engages local communities and the public with experiences and lessons learned from the participants’ fieldwork in the Pacific. Following conclusion of its first three year cycle, leaders of the next cycle of The Current, launching this spring, are Chus Martínez and SUPERFLEX. 

  • Chus Martínez is a curator, art historian, writer, and Director of the Art Institute at the FHNW Academy of Art and Design, Basel, where she also runs the Institute’s exhibition space Der Tank. Martínez’s first expedition with TBA21–Academy launches in New Zealand in March 2018 and explores how the Ocean can function as a tangible expansion of public and artistic space, and transform into a source of inspiration that can influence a range of disciplines and fields, including architecture and economics. Participants include Julieta Aranda, Claudia Comte, Albert Serra, Ingo Niermann, and Beatriz Santiago Muñoz. 
  • The artists' group SUPERFLEX, founded by Bjørnstjerne Christiansen, Jakob Fenger, and Rasmus Nielsen, invite public participation and communication in works that exploring alternative models of social and economic organization. Their first expedition will take place in late summer 2018 to the South Pacific island of Hunga Tonga, a newly formed land mass that recently rose from the water. Using the unique environment as an opportunity to engage with the surrounding marine life, the group will interact with the ecosystem in an attempt to better understand their forthcoming acclimation to, and interaction with, the effects of global warming and rising seas. In addition to being the next leaders of The Current, SUPERFLEX is working with TBA21–Academy on a long-term commission. 







Read the Release
PDF icon Download PDF (557.65 KB)
Download PDF to read the full Press Release >
John Akomfrah. Still frame from Purple, 2017. Six screen film installation © Smoking Dogs Films; Courtesy Lisson Gallery

Other news about TBA21–Academy

Coverage Highlight
ARTnews reports: As Climate Crisis Intensifies, New Art and Science Fund Aims to Save the World’s Seas
26 September 2019
Press Release
TBA21–Academy Launches a Collaborative Fund to Support Groundbreaking Research, Projects, and Partnerships
25 September 2019
Coverage Highlight
Garage Magazine explores: Can an Underwater Desert Restore Jamaica’s Ailing Coral?
16 September 2019
Press Release
Ocean Space Culminates First Season with Ambitious Series of Programs Keyed to the Release of a UN Special Report on Climate Change
16 September 2019
Press Release
Underwater Sculpture Park – The Cacti Series by Claudia Comte Installed on the Seabed of East Portland Fish Sanctuary in Jamaica
1 August 2019