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.