“Our premise is that the sea remains the crucial space of globalization. Nowhere else is the disorientation, violence, and alienation of contemporary capitalism more manifest, but this truth is not self-evident, and must be approached as a puzzle, or mystery, a problem to be solved.”
— Allan Sekula and Noël Burch, 2010
For centuries, the ocean has prompted awe, figuring as a vast unknown space loaded with notions of the sublime and the exotic. In the past fifteen years however, global technological and economic shifts have triggered new concerns and understandings of the ocean. As we consider the future of our planet, today’s oceans reveal more about the consequences of human actions than ever before. The ocean and human culture, no longer thought of as separate, exist in a relationship of mutual and potentially destructive influence.
The Ocean After Nature considers the ocean as a site reflecting the ecological, cultural, political, and economic realities of a globalized world through the work of twenty artists and collectives. These internationally established and emerging artists explore new ways of representing the seascape as a means to identify and critique the various interrelated and chaotic systems of power, such as land-sea divides, the circulation of people and goods, and the vulnerabilities of our ecosystems. Featuring work in a wide variety of media—including photography, video, sculpture, music, and design—the exhibition proposes that seascapes do not only reflect power but can be instruments of power themselves.
Invoking personal themes of identity and migration, alongside more universal concerns related to tourism, trade, and the exploitation of natural resources, the artists in The Ocean After Nature respond to the intertwined factors that define this new understanding of the ocean.
Accompanying the exhibition is a publication edited by the curator and designed by Geoff Kaplan; including texts by Negar Azimi, Ursula Biemann, Yonatan Cohen and Rafi Segal, María del Carmen Carrión, Övül O. Durmusoglu, Kodwo Eshun, Patrick Flores, Ebony L. Haynes, May Joseph, Amanda Parmer, Lisa Le Feuvre, Lucy R. Lippard, Lanka Tattersall, Virgil B/G Taylor, and more. For more information on the publication, please click here.
The Ocean After Nature is a traveling exhibition curated by Alaina Claire Feldman and produced by Independent Curators International (ICI), New York. The exhibition and tour are made possible, in part, with the generous support from ICI’s International Forum and the ICI Board of Trustees.