Blog focused on artists who examine, move over, look at, work with, journey on, use metaphorically, or create new connections to water, rivers, lakes, oceans, or boats.

A new Venice arts centre is bringing the plight of our oceans to the fore

A multimedia installation by artist Joan Jonas inaugurates Ocean Space, a collaborative platform for change opened in the newly revitalised San Lorenzo church

An article in Wallpaper* by Jessica Klingelfuss.

Installation view of Joan Jonas’ ‘Moving Off the Land II’ at Ocean Space in Church of San Lorenzo, Venice. Photography: Enrico Fiores

Installation view of Joan Jonas’ ‘Moving Off the Land II’ at Ocean Space in Church of San Lorenzo, Venice. Photography: Enrico Fiores

A ninth-century Venetian church largely closed to the public for more than 100 years has reopened as the home for Ocean Space, an interdisciplinary arts centre with a focus on marine conservation. An immersive multimedia installation by American artist Joan Jonas inaugurates the new ‘embassy for oceans’, which has been spearheaded by the eco-minded offshoot of Austrian art patron Francesca von Thyssen-Bornemisza’s foundation TBA21 (Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary).

‘Today, [Venice] struggles alongside numerous other coastal communities and island states the effects of climate change and sea level rise, making the mission and programme of Ocean Space ever more topical to the local community and its visitors,’ explained Thyssen-Bornemisza in a statement. Since its inception in 2011, the nomadic TBA21-Academy has collaborated with a global network of artists, scientists, explorers, legal experts, and policy makers intent on fostering a greater understanding of our oceans through the lens of art. The academy’s diverse non-profit programme encompasses exhibitions, installations, commissions, residencies and expeditions.

Rendering of Ocean Space, in Venice’s Church of San Lorenzo. Designed by the Office for Political Innovation, the first phase of the project opened in March 2019.  Courtesy of Andrés Jaque and Office for Political Innovation

Rendering of Ocean Space, in Venice’s Church of San Lorenzo. Designed by the Office for Political Innovation, the first phase of the project opened in March 2019. Courtesy of Andrés Jaque and Office for Political Innovation

Curated by Stefanie Hessler, Jonas’ installation Moving Off the Land II is the culmination of three years of research in aquariums worldwide. The work intertwines prose by writers including Emily Dickinson and Herman Melville with moving images captured during Jonas’ residency off the Jamaica coast. Oceans have surfaced in the artist’s work previously, including her project for the 56th Venice Biennale – a poetic reflection on the fragility of nature.

‘Moving Off the Land II’ is on view until 29 September at the Church of San Lorenzo, Campo San Lorenzo, 30122 Venice. For more information, visit the Ocean Space website, TBA21-Academy website and Office for Political Innovation website

Read more at Wallpaper*.