TBA21–Academy’s Ocean Fellowship is designed as a collaborative effort to share relationships with the ocean in different parts of the planet as well as to recognize their differences and commonalities. This year we discuss Indigenous perspectives on what the ocean is and could be and how bodies of water should be treated according to an Indigenous worldview.
Co-produced with Schmidt Ocean Institute, co-founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, and in collaboration with The Sami pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022, the Norway Office for Contemporary Artand aabaakwad, the 2022 Ocean Fellowship brings together participants to examine our relatedness and duties of care to the ocean and its relationships in multi-species communities and their diverse life forms. What are our responsibilities to the ocean? How can thinking from the ocean build radically inclusive environments? Indigenous perspectives are placed at the center of our work to define resurgent values, forms and stories to interweave knowledge of the past, present and future of the ocean with which we all relate and whose we depend.
TBA21–Academy is delighted to announce the five selected scholarship recipients: Matti Aikio, Liryc Dela Cruz, Ursula Johnson, Fernanda Olivares Molina and near Thami. The participants were selected by an international jury composed of the two Ocean Fellowship mentors: artist Rebecca Belmore and teacher of Sami culture and literature Harald Gaski; in the same way Andrew’s Creekartist; Katya Garcia-Antondirector and chief curator, Office for Contemporary Art Norway; Wanda Nanibush, Curator, Indigenous Art, Art Gallery of Ontario; Marcus Reyman, Director of TBA21–Academy; and Megan TamatiQuenellCurator of Modern and Contemporary Maori and Indigenous Art at the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand.
“What we hope to achieve from the time spent together in Venice is a productive sharing of ideas from multiple cultural and professional backgrounds that will manifest in artistic and scholarly outcomes that will inspire deeper reflection on the relationship between human practices and sustainability. We aim to address these issues collectively as a group and from a breadth of ideas and experiences, which will include discussions of Indigenous ways of seeing and being, represented in the vision of the way the oceans, rivers, lakes, and inland all fit together and work together in an integrity that is necessary to keep Mother Earth alive and thriving.—Rebecca Belmore and Harald Gaski, Mentors of the Ocean Fellowship 2022
The Ocean Fellowship facilitates connections between the diverse localities, acquaintances and ocean routes of its fellows and mentors, who will spend time together at TBA21–Academy Ocean Space in Venice explore opportunities for learning through indigenous methodologies that will reach wider audiences through the Academy ecosystem: Ocean Space, Ocean-Archive.org and OCEAN/UNI. The Fellowship continues to draw attention to storytelling as a methodology, as an action that portrays and conveys territory, mindset and substance, encouraging intergenerational exchange, building community resilience.
Matti Aikio is a Sami visual artist from the Finnish side of Sápmi. He has a background in the Sami culture of reindeer herders. He holds an MA in Contemporary Art from the Academy of Contemporary Art in Tromsø. Aikio’s art has been exhibited in various countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America. He works with mixed media, photography, sound, installations, video, sculpture and text. His main interest as an artist is to try to offer viewers a possibility to change their perspective on established opinions and marginalized subjects. Aikio also performs as a DJ.
Liryc Dela Cruz is an artist and filmmaker from Tupi, South Cotabato in Mindanao, Philippines, currently based between Rome and Paris. Her work, selected and screened at various international film festivals and art events, is thematically linked to her origins, history, decolonial practices and personal psychology. Recently, he made his debut at the Teatro Nazionale in Rome as part of his ongoing research project “Il Mio Filippino/a”, a project on the decolonization of the enslaved and colonized bodies of Filipino cleaning and care workers and on its connection to the transpacific slave trade. .
Ursula Johnson is a Mi’kmaq interdisciplinary artist from the Eskasoni First Nation of the Unama’ki District (Nova Scotia, Canada). Johnson consistently works with a wide range of mediums, while maintaining the foundations of her performance and installation practice. Much of her work uses cooperative didactic intervention, is location-based, and often includes collaboration with others. She describes her work as “changing mediums depending on who I’m talking to and what conversations I’m trying to have.”
Fernanda Olivares Molina is a 30-year-old Selk’nam woman. She studied hotel management in Santiago (Chile) and is currently CEO of Fundación Hach Saye, a foundation created to protect both the Selk’nam culture and the biodiversity of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego. She moved to Tierra del Fuego last year after eight years of traveling and moving around inside Chile.
near Thami is a janajati/indigenous artist she lives and works in bombay she uses social exchange and has developed safe spaces to position art as a means of healing in the community most of her works are self-funded and collaboratively produced.
Rebecca Belmore, a member of the Lac Seul First Nation (Anishinaabe), is an internationally renowned multidisciplinary artist. Rooted in the political and social realities of Indigenous communities, Belmore’s works establish evocative connections between bodies, land and language. Recipient of numerous prizes and distinctions, his work has been presented in individual exhibitions in institutions as well as in major international exhibitions.
Harald Gaski was born and raised on the Deatnu River in Sápmi, at the 70th latitude in Norway’s northernmost county. Gaski is an author, editor and professor of Sámi literature at Sámi allaskuvla (Sámi University of Applied Sciences) and professor of Sámi culture and literature at UiT – the Arctic University of Norway. Gaski’s research specializes in indigenous methodologies and aesthetics, as well as Sámi culture and literature. It was instrumental in establishing Sami literature as an academic field.