A Worldview at the Rhythm of the Waves
February 9–April 22, 2018
Le Fresnoy – Studio national des arts contemporains, Tourcoing, France
In collaboration with TBA21–Academy
Le Fresnoy – Studio national and TBA21–Academy present Océans. Une vision du monde au rythme des vagues, an exhibition exploring a different way of engaging with the oceans and the world we inhabit.
Le Fresnoy and TBA21–Academy are delighted to present the exhibition Océans. Une vision du monde au rythme des vagues. Océans includes artists whose distinctive works cast oceanic perspectives on the cultural, political, and biological dimensions of the planet’s hydrosphere, examining the effects of human-made issues, such as climate change and sea-level rise, while reimagining human and “more-than- human” relationships. The exhibition features newly commissioned works, many flowing from the Academy’s expeditions in the Pacific Ocean, alongside exceptional pieces from the TBA21 collection, and works by artists whose practice is deeply anchored in the oceanic space, among them two former students of Le Fresnoy.
Tidalectics emerges from the TBA21–Academy, a site of cultural production without a fixed locale. Moving aboard the Dardanella research vessel, the Academy is temporarily inhabited by artists, scientists, and other thinkers and practitioners. Since its inception, its program is dedicated to fostering engaged ways of caring for the oceans. If our thoughts and actions as mostly land-dwelling humans fail to grasp these vast bodies of water that cover two thirds of our planet, let alone take care of them, perhaps it is time to consider other, oceanic, ways of being. Océans sets out to do exactly that.
The exhibition cites a neologism by the celebrated Barbadian poet-historian Kamau Braithwaite. His Tidalectics formulates an oceanic worldview, a different way of engaging with the oceans and the world we inhabit. Dissolving purportedly terrestrial modes of thinking and living, it attempts to merge steady land with the rhythmic fluidity of water and the incessant swelling and receding of the tides. It is crafted on “riddims” that are deeply rooted in (post-)colonial anger and hope. Just like navigators who land at a new shore, bringing with them their constantly shifting stories, the concept of Tidalectics can migrate from its original context in Brathwaite’s writing to other geographies and realms: As temperatures increase and the ice at the poles melts faster and streams into the oceans, sea levels will continue to rise all around the world, affecting land across latitudes and spanning apparently disconnected locales.
Océans seeks to comprehend our histories as trajectories tossed by waves, from ocean crossings to systems of exchange, myths, and microbial origins. It highlights processes of cultural adaptation and material change, presenting a rich framework for understanding the coalescing polarities of contemporaneity and history, science and poetics, routes and roots, and ourselves—mostly land-dwelling humans—with the oceans and their many and diverse inhabitants.
Océans is an expanded version of the exhibition Tidalectics that was shown at TBA21–Augarten, Vienna, from June 2–November 19, 2017.
Artists: Doug Aitken, Atif Akin, Darren Almond, Julian Charrière, Edith Dekyndt, , Simon Faithfull, Ellie Ga, Tue Greenfort, Ariel Guzik, Newell Harry, Camille Henrot, Alexander Lee, Basim Magdy, Eduardo Navarro, Enrique Ramírez, Sissel Tolaas, Janaina Tschäpe & David Gruber, Ana Vaz, Jana Winderen, Susanne M. Winterling
Curator: Stefanie Hessler