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Artist Armin Linke Explores Contemporary Challenges Facing Our Oceans: PDF available now

New TBA21–Academy commission opens in Venice this May in collaboration with the Institute of Marine Sciences of the National Research Council of Italy (CNR-ISMAR)

Saturday 17 November 2018

Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU. Copyright Armin Linke

Download the PDF of the content and images from the exhibit

This May, coinciding with the launch of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, TBA21–Academy in collaboration with CNR-ISMAR presents an investigative exhibition by the filmmaker and photographer Armin Linke exploring contemporary challenges facing our oceans. Drawing upon rare footage of the deep-sea and interviews with leading scientists, policymakers, and legal experts, the exhibition scrutinizes the aesthetics of technoscientific apparatuses and grapples with the tension between ecological protection of our oceans and political and economic exploitation.

Marking the culmination of a three-year research project with TBA21–Academy, Linke’s Prospecting Ocean presents a rich choreography of multimedia footage and archival materials exhibited in the former headquarters and laboratory spaces of the Institute of Marine Sciences (CNR-ISMAR), including several multi-channel video installations and a new series of photographs. A montage of rarely seen images of the ocean floor—captured by remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROV) at a depth of up to 5,000 meters—visually juxtaposes the “natural” seabed with the machinery used to extract resources such as deep-sea minerals. Legally defined as common heritage of humankind, these so-called resources have formed over millions of years; deep-sea vents are considered the location of the origin of life. From highly detached images of machinery and clinical incisions in the seabed to assemblies at the UN and infrastructural apparatuses, Linke exposes submarine sites that are commonly invisible and accesses the meetings of decision makers that are usually closed off to the public. Scrutinizing the institutions administrating the seabed, Linke deconstructs the idea of a marine-based blue economy and policy commonly supported by governments.

At CNR-ISMAR, the footage filmed by Linke and his team is presented alongside behind-the-scenes interviews of leading biologists, geologists, and policymakers, as well as footage of activist movements in Papua New Guinea, inviting the viewer to consider the implications of deep-sea mining and other excavations on both the environment and communities. Linke lays bare an intricate network of dynamics, dissecting how information is negotiated between scientific, legal, and economic entities and institutions, on both local and international levels.

Prospecting Ocean also features a selection of primary documents and books from the CNR-ISMAR historical library selected by the institute’s scientists and critical texts analyzing the legal, political, and economic infrastructures presiding over the allocation of ocean resources. Taken together, the project scrutinizes the administration of the oceans and exposes the simultaneous fascination with and alienation from technologies that map, visualize, and exploit resources in the sea.

ISA 22nd Session of the international Seabed Authorithy Assembly, Kingston Jamaica, ReN 009284 10, 20.07.2016 copyright Armin Linke, 2016
ISA 22nd Session of the international Seabed Authorithy Assembly, Kingston Jamaica,
ReN 009284 10, 20.07.2016 copyright Armin Linke, 2016


Prospecting Ocean will be activated during its inaugural weekend, and throughout its run, with a series of programs organized by Territorial Agency, an independent organization founded by John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog that innovatively promotes and works for sustainable territorial transformations. These activations will take the form of lectures, conversations, and object-making drawn from data sourced from CNR-ISMAR’s research archive.

A publication with additional research and newly commissioned texts, edited by Stefanie Hessler, will be launched in early 2019.

WHO Prospecting Ocean (2018) by Armin Linke

Commissioned and produced by TBA21–Academy and curated by TBA21–Academy curator Stefanie Hessler, in partnership with CNR-ISMAR.

Prospecting Ocean is made possible in collaboration with CNR-ISMAR–Istituto di Scienze Marine in Venice and institutions such as GEOMAR – Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

WHEN Wednesday, May 23 – Sunday, September 30, 2018

Press preview on Tuesday, May 22, 10 am–12 pm

Symposium on Wednesday, May 23, 3–6 pm

Opening reception on Wednesday, May 23, 6–8 pm

WHERE Istituto di Scienze Marine (CNR-ISMAR)

Riva dei Sette Martiri, 1364 30122 Venezia, Italy


Armin Linke is a photographer and filmmaker whose body of work analyzes the formation of our natural, technological, and urban environment. Throughout his twenty-year career, Linke's work has investigated how mankind uses technology and knowledge to transform and develop the Earth's surface. His films and photographs are observations of the changes humans have made to the land, oceans, and biosphere. Born in 1966 and based in Berlin, Linke has served as a Research Affiliate at MIT Visual Arts Program Cambridge, guest professor at the IUAV Arts and Design University in Venice, and professor for photography at the University for Arts and Design Karlsruhe.

Prospecting Ocean emerges from Linke’s long-term Anthropocene research and his participation in three expeditions to the Pacific Ocean with TBA21–Academy’s exploratory program The Current. It was first presented in an early iteration as an official project of the Year of Science 2016*17—Seas and Oceans, a program of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.


Founded by Francesca von Habsburg and drawing on her experience as a producer of cross-disciplinary art installations and socially engaged cultural programming, TBA21–Academy leads artists, scientists, and thought-leaders on expeditions of collaborative discovery. Its mission is to foster a deeper understanding of our ocean through the lens of art and to engender creative solutions to its most pressing issues. Led by Director Markus Reymann, the itinerant Academy commissions interdisciplinary research that catalyzes engagement, stimulates new knowledge, and inspires artistic production. Established in 2011, the nonprofit’s program is informed by a belief in the power of exchange between disciplines and in the ability of the arts as a vessel for communication, change, and action.


The Institute of Marine Sciences (ISMAR) is a research institution which is part of the Italian National Research Council (CNR), a public organization committed to carry out, promote, spread, transfer, and improve research activities in the main sectors of knowledge growth and of its applications for the scientific, technological, economic, and social development of the country. ISMAR conducts research in polar, oceanic, and Mediterranean regions, focusing on: the influence of climate change on oceanic circulation, bio-geochemical cycles, and marine productivity; the evolution of oceans and their continental margins, studying submarine volcanoes, faults, and slides and their potential impacts onshore; submarine habitats and ecology, and the increasing pollution of coastal and deep-sea environments; the evolution of fish stocks with a view to sustainability; natural and anthropogenic factors impacting the ocean.

Ismar contact

Angela Pomaro:
tel. +39 041 2407924


Front page image:
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU, Dept. of Marine Technology, Trondheim Norway, DIF Goo168 64, 08.12.2016, copyrught, Armin Linke, 2016


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