Public talk by Stefanie Hessler “Art in the Oceanic Anthropocene”

Public talk by Stefanie Hessler “Art in the Oceanic Anthropocene”Public talk by Stefanie Hessler “Art in the Oceanic Anthropocene”


The ocean is always outside until it floods your home. The current climate catastrophe does not halt at any boundaries established during the Holocene and promoted in (Western) modernity. The burgeoning effects of climate change are becoming palpable not only as material manifestations on land, air, and sea, but have leaked into artistic and curatorial discourse, namely through interdisciplinary exhibitions highlighting ocean ecologies.

In this talk, Hessler investigates the entanglement of industry, politics, culture, and economics at the frontier of ocean extractivism. Through the lens of art and drawing from the sciences, she examines the ecological, cultural, philosophical, and aesthetic reverberations of current threats to the oceans. Her study expands and deepens the research conducted for Armin Linke’s exhibition Prospecting Ocean, commissioned by TBA21–Academy and shown at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Venice in 2018, and highlights ocean spaces in the work of other artists.

She brings in feminist materialist, ecofeminist, and postcolonial theory to examine concepts of distance, visibility, and materiality, as well as many of the lacunae in between. As if the ocean were a cinematographic device that captures different stories in molecules and waves similar to how a film captures light, she attempts to look at it as a moving image that gathers myriad narratives. Integrating the work of artists with scientific, theoretical, and philosophical analysis, Hessler suggests that visual culture offers new and urgent perspectives on ecological crises.


Stefanie Hessler is a curator, writer, and editor. Her work focuses on interdisciplinary processes, close and long-term collaborations with artists and researchers from different fields, and systems at large, be they ecological, economic, or societal. She has been director of Kunsthall Trondheim in Norway since 2019. 

Recent curatorial projects include: Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Tomás Saraceno: More-than-humans, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain (2019); Joan Jonas: Moving Off the Land II, Ocean Space, Venice, Italy (2019); the 6th Athens Biennale ANTI, Greece (2018); the symposium Practices of Attention”at the 33rd Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil; Armin Linke: Prospecting Ocean, Institute of Marine Sciences, Venice, Italy (2018); Océans. Une vision du monde au rythme des vagues, Le Fresnoy, Tourcoing, France (2018); Fishing for Islands, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany (2017); and Sugar and Speed, Museum of Modern Art, Recife, Brazil (2017). Between 2016 and 2019, Hessler was curator of TBA21–Academy in London, UK, an interdisciplinary art and research platform with a focus on human impacts on the oceans. As guest professor in art theory at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, Sweden she curated the exhibition Juan Downey: With Energy Beyond These Walls (2018). 

Hessler regularly writes for publications like Art-Agenda, ArtReview, and Mousse Magazine. She has edited books like Life Itself, including 173 texts from different disciplines on the unanswerable question of what life essentially is, published by Moderna Museet and König Books (2016), and Tidalectics. Imagining an Oceanic Worldview through Art and Science, published by The MIT Press (2018). Her new book Prospecting Ocean with a visual essay by Armin Linke and a foreword by Bruno Latour is published by The MIT Press in November 2019. 


Free admission with advance registration.

The talk will be in English with simultaneous interpretation into Russian.