Recently opened for the first time in a century, a ninth century Venetian church plays host to an exhibition all about the ocean. As this iconic city is situated on the coast, with water all around, it makes perfect sense to show this artwork here. Drawing attention to the inevitable climax of climate change, many of the world's coastal and island communities are at severe risk of flooding as the ice sheets melt away.
Joan Jonas, a well-known American multimedia artist, has decorated Ocean Space with Moving Off The Land II. Its many displays and pieces completely submerge visitors in the world of the sea and our place next to it. With a mission to highlight the need for action to improve ocean health and the planetary ecosystem as a whole, this ancient building has been repurposed to fit with the main agenda of the day. Those of us living inland may not feel the same degree of urgency as those living in places of excellent antiquity at risk of becoming unusable.
With the help of Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21), this arts organisation of aquatic intrigue is now open for all the many visitors who travel to the area. They've been involved with many similar projects around the globe, this recent issue at Venice being the latest. Using art to communicate information and values surrounding the ocean has helped to inform a whole new group of people. Scientists and sailors may already know their fair share, so finding a medium that appeals to someone else is always a good idea.
For Joan Jonas, Moving Off The Land II involved three long years of research and creative thinking. By visiting aquariums and ocean museums, Jonas was able to fill a bucket full of inspiration that ultimately made its way into the new exhibition. The multi-media aspect of Jonas' work includes prose by Dickinson and Melville. Sketches and photographs make up the rest, with paintings and assemblages. Running alongside the 56th Venice Biennale, centred on the fragility of nature as a whole, Joan Jonas will team up with musician Ikue Mori on the 7th of May for a live performance in the Church of San Lorenzo.
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