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Tidalectics: TBA21-Academy's first exhibition opens at Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary
Installation view: Eduardo Navarro, Hydrohexagrams (For Tahuata), Tidalectics, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, 2017. Photo: Jorit Aust.


VIENNA.- TBA21–Academy announced the opening of its first exhibition, Tidalectics, on Friday, June 2 in Vienna. The exhibition is timed to coincide with the first-ever United Nations’ Ocean Conference, held in New York from June, 5-9.

Curated by Stefanie Hessler, Tidalectics presents thirteen artists whose distinctive works cast oceanic perspectives on the cultural, political and biological dimensions of the oceans, examining the effects of human-made issues, such as climate change and sea-level rise, while reimagining human and “more-thanhuman” relationships. The exhibition features nine newly commissioned works, many flowing from the Academy’s expeditions in the Pacific Ocean, alongside exceptional pieces from the TBA21 collection. It will be accompanied by a series of spoken word-performances every Friday on the TBA21–Ephemeropteræ stage in Augarten, co-curated by Boris Ondreička and Daniela Zyman with Stefanie Hessler and Markus Reymann, episodes from a Tidalectics radio series in collaboration with NTS Radio, as well as a comprehensive publication.

TBA21 chairwoman Francesca von Habsburg commented: “I have committed the work of TBA21 to the most pressing topics of today, not only in a descriptive fashion but by taking the language of art to concrete actions and solution finding. It’s a turning point for the foundation as it increasingly looks unashamedly at becoming an agent of change. We need to make peace with the oceans.”

The ocean covers approximately 72 percent of the earth’s surface, provides habitat for 90 percent of all life on the planet, and is responsible for every other breath we take. Yet we know more about our galaxy than this vital life support system: Tidalectics is an oceanic worldview, a different way of engaging with the oceans and the world we inhabit. Unbound by land-based modes of thinking and living, the exhibition is reflective of the rhythmic fluidity of water and the incessant swelling and receding of the tides.

Taking its title from a play on words by the celebrated Barbadian poet-historian Kamau Braithwaite, Tidalectics seeks to comprehend our histories as trajectories tossed by waves, from ocean crossings to systems of exchange, myths, and microbial origins. The exhibition will highlight 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.

TBA21–Academy director Markus Reymann commented: “This exhibition bears the fruits of an experiment that Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary embarked on in 2011: an explorational voyage that has become TBA21–Academy. This has led us not only to researching the Pacific Ocean at great lengths and engaging with local communities and organizations with our extraordinary participants, but it has also led to a program and commitment that transcends the exhibition space and brings our practice to science, conservation and exploration. This exhibition is the attempt to bring all of these influences together and share this newly gained oceanview and engagement with our TBA21 audience. The opening of Tidalectics coincides with the United Nations’ very first Ocean Conference, during which, on Ocean Day (June 8) TBA21–Academy will present a performance by Laura Anderson Barbata, conceived on an expedition to Papua New Guinea.”






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