27 January 2020
The Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (Columbia GSAPP) is pleased to present Prospecting Ocean by Armin Linke, a multimedia artistic research project that investigates the technocratic entanglement of industry, science, politics, and economics at the frontiers of ocean exploration. The exhibition features Linke’s archival research, photography, and films, including behind-the-scenes footage at leading oceanographic research institutions and at sea. Prospecting Ocean is on view at GSAPP’s Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery from March 26 through June 27, 2020. It is Linke’s first solo exhibition in the U.S. in more than 15 years. The exhibition is free and open to the public.
Armin Linke (b. 1966, Milan) is an internationally renowned artist based in Berlin. Through photography and filmmaking, Linke reveals how the environment is transformed by technologies, infrastructures, systems of knowledge, and political power. His expansive body of work on the Anthropocene penetrates complex institutional networks, offering rare glimpses of the processes—from bureaucratic decision-making to logistics, to mechanized operations and manual labor—that cumulatively generate terrestrial and ecological effects at a scale that is often beyond perception.
In Prospecting Ocean, Linke scrutinizes the administration of the oceans and exposes the simultaneous fascination with and alienation of modern technologies that map, visualize, and exploit resources in the sea. The research was initially made possible by Linke’s participation in TBA21–Academy’s fellowship program The Current. The centerpiece of the exhibition is the title film, Prospecting Ocean, a cinematic journey that traverses United Nations assemblies, international law conferences, marine research centers, deep sea mining companies, gatherings of decision-makers that are usually closed to the public, as well as activist meetings in Papua New Guinea. Through a series of photographs, a selection of critical texts and key documents, and filmed interviews with marine biologists, geologists, policymakers, legal experts, and activists, Linke further grapples with the tensions between the ecological protection and exploitation of our oceans. Together, the materials invite viewers to consider the implications of oceanic excavations and resource extraction for both the environment and local economies and cultures.
Prospecting Ocean was first presented in 2018 at CNR-ISMAR–Istituto di Scienze Marine in Venice, and was commissioned and produced by TBA21–Academy. For his exhibition at Ross Gallery, GSAPP has invited Linke to develop a new chapter of his project that is based on his research at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. This chapter expands his project by introducing new material on seafloor mapping, autonomous underwater vehicles, and emerging policies on biodiversity.
The Ross Gallery presentation of Prospecting Ocean is co-organized by Columbia GSAPP and TBA21–Academy, and is co-curated by Irene Sunwoo, GSAPP Director of Exhibitions and Stefanie Hessler, Director of Kunsthall Trondheim. It is a continuation of the exhibition Prospecting Ocean, curated by Stefanie Hessler for TBA21–Academy at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Venice, Italy (2018), commissioned and produced by TBA21–Academy. A book on the project (Prospecting Ocean, 2019) by Hessler, which includes a visual essay by Linke, was recently published by MIT Press and Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary.
The exhibition design for the Ross Gallery presentation of Prospecting Ocean is by Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation, and graphic design by Willis Kingery.