Sea Creature
Studium Generale 2021-2022 Rietveld Academie

How can we liquefy our ways of being? How can we think from and with the ocean?

“Just as the sea is an open and ever flowing reality, so should our oceanic identity transcend all forms of insularity, to become one that is openly searching, inventive, and welcoming.”
― Epeli Hau’ofa (We Are the Ocean: Selected Works)

“As watery, we experience ourselves less as isolated entities, and more as oceanic eddies: I am a singular, dynamic whorl dissolving in a complex, fluid circulation.”
― Astrida Neimanis (Hydrofeminism. Or, On Becoming a Body of Water?)

In 2021-2022 Studium Generale Rietveld Academie takes a deep dive into the ocean. Through the reflective surface and from our own liquid bodies, we imagine the ocean as a sensorium that feels, perceives, registers and creates.

Most of what happens in the ocean, we cannot perceive with our own senses. Yet we are doing enormous damage to it. The ocean should therefore also be considered a ‘critical zone’ threatened by human activities and greedy extractive economies.

If we take the ocean as a discontinuous and asynchronous time-space, this critical zone also includes histories of exploitation, fear and death: from transatlantic slave trade to contemporary boat refugees and coastal and islanders displaced by sea-level rise.

What is an ocean in terms of ideology? What kind of power relations are at work and how can we create a new sensitivity and awareness of what is outside our own sensory or biased system?

From another perspective, the ocean can also be experienced as a transformative and immersive space: a space of affect and metamorphosis in which bodies and identities become fluid, and in which human and non-human entities meet.
How can we liquefy our ways of being? How can we think from and with the ocean?

With talks, workshops, reading groups, a walking club, screenings, publications, an exhibition (Rietveld Uncut) and a multi-day conference festival in Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Oceanic Imaginaries will explore our relationships with the ocean from different angles and disciplines and from different scales.