Curated by Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director, NTU CCA Singapore, and Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University
Opening Reception: Friday, 8 December 2017, 7.00 – 9.00pm
Media Preview: Thursday, 7 December 2017, 11.00am – 12.00pm
NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore is pleased to present The Oceanic, an exhibition focusing on large-scale human interventions in oceanic ecospheres with contributions by 12 artists, filmmakers, composers, and researchers who engage with both the long cultural histories of Pacific Ocean archipelagos and their current conditions. As part of Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary–Academy’s (TBA21–Academy) The Current, an ongoing research initiative into pressing environmental, economic, and socio-political concerns, NTU CCA Singapore’s Founding Director Professor Ute Meta Bauer was invited to lead the project’s first cycle of expeditions from 2015–17. The featured contributors in The Oceanic are The Current Fellows who joined the expeditions on TBA21–Academy’s vessel Dardanella to Papua New Guinea (2015), French Polynesia (2016), and Fiji (2017).
The expedition to Papua New Guinea, with Laura Anderson Barbata (Mexico/United States), Tue Greenfort (Denmark/Germany), Newell Harry (Australia), and Jegan Vincent de Paul (Sri Lanka/Canada), took as a starting point the concept of the Kula Ring, a ceremonial exchange system practiced in the Trobriand Islands. The second excursion, to French Polynesia, titled Tuamotus, the Tahitian name for distant islands, included Nabil Ahmed (Bangladesh/United Kingdom), Atif Akin (Turkey/United States), PerMagnus Lindborg (Sweden/Singapore), and Filipa Ramos (Portugal/United Kingdom). The atolls Mururoa and Fangataufa were the sites for 193 nuclear tests between 1966 and 1996, despite being declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1977. Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the first atomic weapons test on Mururoa, then considered a French colony in Polynesia, this expedition discussed the still neglected long-term impact of nuclear experiments in the Pacific on the populations and the environment. On the third and last expedition of this cycle, the Fijian practice of the Tabu/Tapu, where a community chief demarcates something as “sacred,” or “forbidden,” continued the enquiry on the Polynesian Rahui—a traditional rule system that in recent times became significant for marine conservation and resource management. This journey to the Fijian Lau Islands was joined by The Current Fellows Guigone Camus (France), Lisa Rave (United Kingdom/Germany), and Kristy H. A. Kang (United States/Singapore). Participating in all three expeditions was Armin Linke (Italy/Germany), who not only documented these journeys with his camera, but also questioned the role of image production in such unique yet loaded encounters.
Stemming from this cycle of expeditions, the exhibition addresses various ecological urgencies affecting the ocean and its littorals as a habitat for humans, fauna, and flora, as well as particular aspects of sea governance. Questions addressed in the show include: Who are the regulators of global oceans? Why should communities who only contribute one per cent of the global carbon footprint be among the first ones to be fatally affected by the rise of sea levels caused by global warming? Is the economic benefit of land- and seabed mining evenly shared with the impacted communities? What are the long-term effects of such industries? Who owns the ocean?
The interest in exposing the technology behind the human infrastructures is present in Armin Linke’s video installation OCEANS – Dialogues between ocean floor and water column (2017) while Tue Greenfort explores complex ecosystems and scientific production practices, challenging human understanding of and relationship with nature and culture.
Inspired by the materials used for gift exchanges such as the Kula Ring, Newell Harry documents this practice in his black-and-white photo series (Untitled) Nimoa and Me: Kiriwina Notes (2015–16), and also creates (Untitled) Anagrams and Objects for RU & RU (2015) with text on tapa, a cloth made from softened bark. Likewise incorporating items by artisans from Milne Bay Province, Laura Anderson Barbata produced striking costumes for the performative piece Ocean Calling (2017), created as part of TBA21–Academy’s intervention on World Ocean Day 2017 at the plaza in front of the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Addressing the exploitation of finite resources, Nabil Ahmed collaborates with other researchers to call for an Inter-Pacific Ring Tribunal (INTERPRT) (2016–ongoing), a long-term investigation into environmental justice in the Pacific region. Lisa Rave’s film Europium (2014) investigates this rare eponymous mineral that has become one of the allures of deep-sea mining—the new gold rush spreading across the global oceans. In Europium, Rave also draws the often-invisible connections between colonialism, ecology, and currencies.
The exhibition will also include a sound component by PerMagnus Lindborg who recorded the land and underwater soundscapes of the Tuamotus in French Polynesia, as well as a film programme selected by Filipa Ramos and other The Current Fellows. Jegan Vincent de Paul will expand his research on socio-economic networks into the Pacific region. In The Lab, the Centre’s project space, anthropologist Guigone Camus will display documentation from the Fiji expedition, as well as diverse materials from her extensive research in Kiribati, while Kristy H. A. Kang will reflect on her experience in Fiji through an iterative installation and research process that will explore vernacular forms of mapping cultural memory and spatial narrative.
The Oceanic marks the start of NTU CCA Singapore’s new overarching research topic CLIMATES. HABITATS. ENVIRONMENTS., which will inform and connect the Centre’s various activities—ranging from research to residencies and exhibitions—for the next three years. This is the third exhibition by the Centre, following Allan Sekula’s Fish Story, to be continued (2015) and Charles Lim Yi Yong’s SEA STATE (2016), to feature long-term, critical enquiries by artists about the radical changes for communities whose livelihoods are inseparable from the sea, the precarious labour at sea, and the irreversible impact of technologically driven human interventions on one of the Earth’s most precious resources, the oceans.
This opportunity has led to a Memorandum of Understanding between TBA21 and the Nanyang Technological University in developing academic and scientific relationships.
From 25 – 27 January 2018, on the occasion of the exhibition and coinciding with Singapore Art Week 2018, The Current Convening #3, conceived by Professor Bauer, Markus Reymann, Director of TBA21–Academy, and Stefanie Hessler, Curator of TBA21–Academy, will take place at the Centre, featuring conversations, roundtables, workshops, performances, and screenings. The event will focus on modalities of exchange and shared responsibilities, while addressing the rights of nature and cultures.
The speakers will share their experience of the first cycle of research trips to the Pacific Ocean archipelagos as part of TBA21–Academy The Current, giving background into how the exhibition project evolved out of these journeys. The insights into the expeditions will give further context to the works in the show, while presenting broader vision of The Current.
12 Jan 2018, Fri 02:30 PM - 05:30 PM
Saturday, 9 December 2017, 10.00am – 1.00pm
Workshop for Teachers and Educators
by educator and artist Kelly Reedy
with the presence of artist Newell Harry and Markus Reymann, TBA21–Academy Director
Friday, 12 January 2018, 3.00 – 5.00pm
Workshop for Teachers and Educators
by educator and artist Kelly Reedy
with the presence of artists Kristy H. A. Kang and PerMagnus Lindborg
To attend either session, please register at NTUCCAEducation@ntu.edu.sg.
Focusing on the artists and works included in the exhibition The Oceanic, the workshop engages with artistic practices and prepares educators for visits with their students by providing educational tools as entry points to the exhibition, and assisting in identifying aspects of the exhibition that might be relevant to their classes. It suggests techniques for exploring both the visual arts and other areas of daily encounters.
The audience will meet the curator of The Oceanic Professor Ute Meta Bauer, in an open Q&A session in conversation with contributing sound artist PerMagnus Lindborg. The tour includes a “sound walk” through the exhibition guided by the artist.
Impact of climate change on human communities—flood, drought, heat: who will suffer really? by geographer and cartographer Philippe Rekacewicz (France/Norway)
In this (de)Tour, renowned cartographer Philippe Rekacewicz will speak about the impact of climate change and environmental migration using maps as the main tool for analysing ocean, environment, and urban phenomena. He will also share his research process and recent projects in experimental cartography. A map can be both a representation of factual data as well as a political object that is in continuous dialogue with real and projected conditions. As a carefully designed visual image, it is at the intersection of cartography, art, and politics.
Rekacewicz is in Singapore under the auspices of University of Helsinki Department of Anthropology, visionscarto.net, and Singapore-ETH Centre Future Cities Lab.
How do images lead to stories? And how do stories convey images? In this workshop, we will explore the stories that pictures of oceanic life and sites of environmental transformation tell, and the images that stories summon. Together, we’ll write and enact one and many stories, thinking about how tales are told, inventing new ways of combining memory with discovery and imagination, and discussing the ways in which we share experiences, visions, and emotions with others.
Designed for children aged 7-12.
For advance registration, please email NTUCCAEducation@ntu.edu.sg.
A collaboration between TBA21–Academy and NTU CCA Singapore
Part of Singapore Art Week 2018
Convening #3 marks the culmination of TBA21–Academy The Current’s first cycle of expeditions. Convening #3 will bring together The Current Fellows; collaborators from Fiji and French Polynesia; thought leaders from diverse disciplines; and local agencies and community groups. Through a series of talanoa sessions, talks, lectures, workshops, and performances, Convening #3 will share with a wider public the research and collective body of knowledge from the expeditions to the Pacific archipelagos of Papua New Guinea, French Polynesia, and Fiji, and the diverse tabus encountered. With a focus on the modalities of exchange, environmental urgencies and responsibilities, and the ownership and rights of nature, Convening #3 will provide a platform that invites active and creative participation, and exploration on how we can be agents of change and effect development to international laws, policies, culture, and education.
Guest-of-Honour during reception on 26 January 2018:
Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources of Singapore
Convening #1 The Kula Ring in Kingston, Jamaica (16 – 17 March 2016)
Convening #2 Tuamotus, Distant Islands in Kochi, Kerala, India (13 – 15 December 2016)
Convened by Professor Ute Meta Bauer, Markus Reymann, TBA21–Academy Director, and Stefanie Hessler, TBA21–Academy Curator
Coordination for NTU CCA Singapore: Samantha Leong, Executive, Conference, Workshops and Archive; and Magdalena Magiera, Curator, Outreach and Education
The 12 Fellows of The Current—Nabil Ahmed, Atif Akin, Laura Anderson Barbata, Dr Guigone Camus, Tue Greenfort, Newell Harry, Dr Kristy H. A. Kang, Dr PerMagnus Lindborg, Armin Linke, Filipa Ramos, Lisa Rave, and Jegan Vincent de Paul—will be present, joined by TBA21 Chairwoman and Founder Francesca von Habsburg, TBA21–Academy team, and invited speakers and participants:
- Tarek Atoui (Lebanon/France) musician, composer, and sound artist
- Dr Cynthia Chou (Singapore/United States), Professor, Department of Anthropology, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, University of Iowa, United States
Note: Dr Chou will present her research focused on the orang suku laut.
- Taholo Kami (Tonga/Fiji), Special Adviser, Pacific Partnerships and International Civil Society, COP23 Presidency Secretariat of the Fijian government
- Dr Cresantia (Frances) Koya Vaka’uta (Fiji), Senior Lecturer in Education and Head of Secondary Education: Curriculum & Research, School of Education, University of South Pacific, Suva, Fiji
- Dr Hervé Raimana Lallemant-Moe (French Polynesia), Law Department, University of French Polynesia, Tahiti
- Dr Sandor Mulsow (Chile/Jamaica), Director, Office of Environmental Management and Mineral Resources, United Nations International Seabed Authority, Kingston, Jamaica
- Lucy Orta (United Kingdom/France), artist, and Professor and Chair of Art and Environment, University of the Arts London, United Kingdom
- Maureen Penjueli (Papua New Guinea), Coordinator, Pacific Network on Globalisation
Thursday, 25 January 2018
Workshops and talanoa sessions
(talanoa – a term used throughout the Pacific to designate guided roundtable discussions used to share information and facilitate communal conversations)
guided by invited guest speakers from Fiji and The Current expedition team to Fiji
Friday, 26 January 2018
Public lectures and presentations
by Tarek Atoui (Lebanon/France), musician, composer, and sound artist
(coinciding with Gillman Barracks Art After Dark)
Saturday, 27 January 2018
Public lectures and presentations
conceived by Lucy Orta (United Kingdom/France), artist, and Professor and Chair of Art and Environment, University of the Arts London, United Kingdom
Generating conversations about the ocean as food resource and food sustainability, the artist will engage local providers for the production of the meal.
Image credit: Lisa Rave, Lau Islands, Fiji, 2017, documentation. Courtesy the artist.
selected by The Current Fellows
4 Feb 2018, Sun 01:00 PM - 07:00 PM
During the past three years, a dispersed community of thinkers, artists, writers and researchers was summoned, assembled, and brought together on various expeditions on board of the Dardanella, a research vessel travelling across various locations in the Pacific Ocean. These expeditions were deeply cinematic experiences. In itself the boat was both a real and figurative site of projection: at once a privileged place from where to observe the ocean, the life forms, transactions, and infrastructures it hosts, and at the same time a vessel that embodied the tropes of the expedition, voyage, and exploration that were continuously being performed and redefined within it.
Further pursuing the production and sourcing of images of the sea and all that surrounds it, this selection of films followed the collective agency of The Current project. The films presented were chosen by the 12 Fellows participating of the three expeditions, and reflect their personal and collective interests, sources of imaginary, references, and dreamscapes. Offering a large variety of styles, gazes, chronologies, lengths, and prisms, this film selection also presents a small sample of the sort of cinematic visions that have been created, throughout the history of cinema, about the sea and its agents.
— Filipa Ramos, The Current Fellow 2016
Exploring the ways in which artistic practices reflect on social and ecological phenomena, James Jack will reference one of his curatorial projects, Play with Nature, Played by Nature (2013), an exhibition and series of conversations that looked at creative practices as a way to reinvigorate our consciousness of cycles occurring in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami off the Pacific coast of Tohoku, Japan. Jack will also share his artistic research process of Sea Birth (2017), a project that takes as a starting point the spirits in the sea off the Okinawa coast for a re-imagination of the links between fragments from a turbulent past.
INTERPRT: Spatial investigation of environmental crimes by artist Nabil Ahmed (Bangladesh/United Kingdom)
INTERPRT is an interdisciplinary project on environmental justice in Oceania at the intersection of spatial practice, international law and artistic research. The Pacific ring—a geological force field rising from the ocean floor—reorganises a fluid, geological imaginary of the region as a global commons. At this mineral frontier, environmental violence is spatially diffused and temporally protracted, requiring new methods of detection and reconstruction. This talk will present investigations on environmental crimes and new forums for ecocide law.
For the launch of Final Report of the Christmas Island Expert Working Group in The Lab, Robert Zhao Renhui, founder of The Institute of Critical Zoologists, discusses the scope of his two-year long investigation as well as the research process and methodological approach developed as he ventured into the fractured ecosystem of Christmas Island. Merging scientific observation and artistic speculation, Zhao frames the absurdity of the real and weaves multiple narratives that address the uneasy relationship between humans and the natural environment.
Current international laws are inadequate to protect the oceans and the planet. A law against ecocide and the principle of universal jurisdiction are the missing factors that can address this problem. Criminal accountability for environmental and climate-related crimes also addresses wider issues of climate justice beyond economic remedies. The workshop, convened by INTERPRT brings together leading practitioners from the field to examine emerging legal concepts and cases around ecocide, universal jurisdiction, and nature as a legal subject in a Pacific region context.
This is a workshop for tertiary students. Please register at NTUCCAEducation@ntu.edu.sg
Participants of the workshop are encouraged to attend the public talk by Nabil Ahmed on Thursday, 1 March 2018, INTERPRT: Spatial investigation of environmental crimes
In this full-day workshop, participants will be introduced to the process of art making, from research and conceptualisation to execution. Developed for participants 14 years and above, the day will consist of a trip to the beach to collect plastic waste and organic debris like shells washed ashore to create artworks out of these found materials during the second part of the workshop. Using The Oceanic as an entry point to raise awareness on the dire health of our oceans and the islands most affected, participants will learn how to engage with questions of climate change, as well as its impacts.
Designed for families and participants aged 14 and up.
For advance registration, please email NTUCCAEducation@ntu.edu.sg.