Joan Jonas Moving Off The Land

The New Ocean Space Center in Venice Puts Art and Science at the Center of a Growing Concern: Rising Sea Levels

The inaugural exhibition is a solo show by Joan Jonas, who worked with researchers to prepare new work.

A video still from Joan Jonas's exhibition A video still from Joan Jonas’s exhibition “Moving Off the Land II” at Ocean Space in Venice, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

According to Venetian lore, the Church of San Lorenzo is the final resting ground of the great explorer Marco Polo, whose family lived nearby. But excavations carried out in the 20th century yielded no discoveries of human remains and left only a monstrous cavity in the deconsecrated edifice’s marble floor. Except for a few special occasions, the church has been closed to the public for more than a century. After a two-year historic preservation, the building reopened as Ocean Space, an arts center dedicated to scientific, academic, and artistic engagement with the high seas. Its first show is dedicated to American artist Joan Jonas.

Ocean Space undergoing renovation. © Church of San Lorenzo, Venice. Photo: TBA21–Academy.

© Church of San Lorenzo, Venice. Photo: TBA21–Academy.

Ocean Space, a new global center for catalyzing ocean literacy, research, and advocacy through the arts, opens to the public in the newly revitalized Church of San Lorenzo in Venice. Spearheaded by TBA21–Academy and building on its expansive work over the past eight years, this new embassy for the oceans fosters greater engagement and collective action on the most pressing issues facing the oceans today. Conceived as a platform for collaboration and exchange, Ocean Space provides flexible facilities for installations, performances, workshops, archives, and research, overseen by TBA21–Academy and its network of partners, including universities, NGOs, museums, government agencies, and research institutes from around the world. The project opens in phases, reintegrating the historic building back into the cultural fabric of the city after two years of extensive revitalization works and more than 100 years of being largely inaccessible to the public.