TBA21–Academy presents a solo exhibition dedicated to the artist Diana Policarpo at Ocean Space. The exhibition is part of a two-year curatorial cycle entitled The Soul Expanding Ocean by Ocean Space’s 2021 and 2022 curator Chus Martínez.
For her newly commissioned work at Ocean Space, Diana Policarpo is developing a multimedia installation, using film and audio to enhance a certain sense of presence while capturing her own research process. Taking her point of departure from a research trip to the Portuguese administered Ilhas Selvagens (Savage Islands) in the North Atlantic Ocean, Policarpo creates a case study of mapping colonial histories through tracking natural biodiversity.
With their technological lenses, cameras can see layers of life activity that human eyes cannot. Embedded in the very substance of the installations, these films become another sculptural material and, as such, they have the same function: to create a dramaturgy where we understand that science is implicated...in colonial processes and entangled in power relations. While microorganisms have formed part of myths since ancient times and storytelling has a filmic quality, one could say that in both installations the camera is closer to a mouth that tells than to an eye that records.
This new work marks a jump in scale and ambition to constitute Policarpo’s biggest sculptural installation to date, giving the artist an opportunity to unfold her artistic vocabulary in full. In her treatment of sculpture, transparency, and fluidity play a key political and aesthetic role. She wants our bodily experiences being affected and transformed; these experiences becoming a liquid substance similar to water and able to respond to the settings created by the artist. The materiality of the artworks contributes to a feeling of being inside the Ocean and thinking from within.
'Our eyes become lenses, we see like a microscope, we see like a camera recording the depths of the seas, we see like a drone. Diana Policarpo plays with our physical presence in space to render visible the many ways the Ocean makes sense to life. The installation is an island, a wild island, untouched by humans.' - Chus Martínez
For the past few months, the TBA21–Academy team and I have been enjoying imaginary journeys with artists Dineo Seshee Bopape and Diana Policarpo, working on new commissions for TBA21–Academy's Ocean Space in Venice. Both commissions, together with the artistic journeys and the research that nourished the works, give a sounding background to the question of how we understand the Ocean: How do we formally connect to an entity without form, and why is art so important, so fundamental to the issues of the Ocean and the climate emergency?
One answer is that if we are not able to experience all dimensions that potentially connect us with—instead of distinguishing us from—the Ocean, we will not know how to act. And acting is what we aim for. An action that must not be restricted to avoiding further damage, an action meant to create conditions to experience ourselves and every being as part of life, a life we respect and listen to.
Diana Policarpo’s installation starts with an inquiry into the Ilhas Selvagens, a Portuguese administered archipelago in the North Atlantic Ocean. Dineo Seshee Bopape’s work begins with a journey we took together to the Solomon Islands, and from there she moves on to plantations on the Mississippi, to Jamaica, and then back home to South Africa. Travel, in both works, becomes a language that allows timelines to converge and intersect in the space of waters, a revisit to ‘dogs that are not asleep’.
These works are brought together in order to provide a powerful expression of a new life. Joy, kinship, and trust in life’s diversity, in the many non-linguistic, and yet fertile ways of transmission are the center of a new pedagogy through art. A pedagogy that strives for equality and future forms of organizing survival that respects all that is alive.
Curator of the cycle The Soul Expanding Ocean at Ocean Space
Entrada actualizada el el 16 feb de 2022
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