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Columbia GSAPP Presents Prospecting Ocean

Armin linke
Armin Linke, Twenty-Second Session of the International Seabed Authority Assembly, ISA, Kingston, Jamaica, 2016
A solo exhibition featuring new work by Armin Linke
on view at the Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery March 26 – June 27, 2020
Press Release
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.

Columbia University
Year of Water
The exhibition Prospecting Ocean and the symposium Frontiers in the Oceanic Anthropocene contribute to Columbia University’s Year of Water initiative—an interdisciplinary investigation of water in all its social, political, cultural, economic and environmental complexities. Led by the School of the Arts and convened across the University, public programming for the Year of Water features presentations and exhibitions, lectures, screenings, readings and research focused on our planet’s most precious resource. Artists who have contributed to programming include Torkwase Dyson, Olafur Eliasson, and Daan Roosegaarde. Columbia GSAPP participates through this exhibition and accompanying symposium, as well as other curricular initiatives and events.
About Armin Linke
For over twenty years, Armin Linke has explored the question of how humanity uses technologies and knowledge in order to transform the surface of the earth and adapt it to its needs. His films and photographs document human-made changes on land, at sea, and throughout the entire biosphere. Linke was Research Affiliate at MIT Visual Arts Program Cambridge, guest professor at the IUAV Arts and Design University in Venice and professor for photography at the University for Arts and Design Karlsruhe. Currently he is guest professor at ISIA, Urbino (IT) and artist-in-residence at the KHI Kunsthistorishes Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut. In 2004, Linke’s installation Alpi on the contemporary Alpine landscape won a special prize for the best work in the section “Episodes” at the Venice Architecture Biennale. In 2019, with Image Capital, Linke gained the Kubus.Sparda Art Prize (DE). His installation Carceri d’Invenzione, conceived in collaboration with Giulia Bruno and Giuseppe Ielasi, and curated by Anselm Franke, was the official German contribution to the XXII Triennale di Milano, Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival. His recent project Blind Sensorium. Il paradosso dell’Antropocene has been presented as part of the Matera European Capital of Culture 2019 program.
About Columbia GSAPP
Among the world’s leading research universities, Columbia University in the City of New York continuously seeks to advance the frontiers of scholarship and foster a campus community deeply engaged in the complex issues of our time. Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (Columbia GSAPP) offers a range of programs in architecture, historic preservation, planning, real estate development, and urban design that bring together imagination, experimentation, and critical thinking towards new forms of practice. GSAPP is committed to shaping a more equitable, sustainable, and creative world by engaging architecture and the built environment from diverse and global perspectives. The school functions as an urban condenser of ideas and drives innovation and change through the leadership of its faculty, the excellence of its academic programs, the expansion of interdisciplinary opportunities as well as the richness of its research initiatives and events. More information about Columbia GSAPP’s academic programs and research initiatives, public exhibitions and events, and publications can be found at arch.columbia.edu
Project Credits

Project credits for the Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery presentation of Prospecting Ocean:
Co-organized by Columbia GSAPP and TBA21–Academy
Co-curated by Irene Sunwoo, GSAPP Director of Exhibitions and Stefanie Hessler, Director of Kunsthall Trondheim
Exhibition design by Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation
Graphic design by Willis Kingery

The project has been realized in collaboration with Giulia Bruno (camera, editing), Stefanie Hessler (curator), Giuseppe Ielasi (sound, editing), Renato Rinaldi (sound), and Kati Simon (project management).

Studio Armin Linke Project Assistance:
Nicholas Boncardo De Leo, Elena Capra, Laura Fiorio, Valentina Galossi, Ferial Nadja Karrasch, Sarah Poppel, Martina Pozzan, Elisa Scaramuzzino

Armin Linke is represented by galleria Vistamare / Vistamarestudio, Pescara / Milano.


Special thanks go to all interview partners, institutions, and to all those who contributed to realize this project, especially to:


Institute of Marine Sciences of the National Research Council of Italy (CNR-ISMAR)

Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), Bremerhaven, Germany

Bismarck Ramu Group, Madang, Papua New Guinea

Brot für die Welt / Bread for the World, Regional Office Pacific, Madang, Papua New Guinea

Colorzenith, Milan, Italy

Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), New York, NY, USA
Committee of the International Law Association on International Law and Sea Level Rise

Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art, Oldenburg, Germany

Environmental Biochemistry (ICBM), Carl-von-Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Germany

Fair Oceans, Verein für Internationalismus und Kommunikation e.V., Bremen, Germany

Fundació Sorigué, Lleida, Spain

GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany

German Federal Ministry of Education and Research:

Year of Science 2016 17—Seas and Oceans

Ghent University Marine Biology Research group, Belgium

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies e.V. (IASS), Potsdam, Germany

International Seabed Authority (ISA), Kingston, Jamaica

International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), Hamburg, Germany

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, Palisades, NY, USA
MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Germany

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, USA

MAST Foundation, Bologna, Italy
Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, Germany

Nautilus Minerals Inc., Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway

NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore

RWTH Aachen University, AMR Unit of Mineral Processing, Aachen, Germany

The University of Texas at Austin, TX, USA

United Nations, New York, NY, USA 

University Library of Bologna, Italy
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Woods Hole, MA, USA

Nichole Anest, Nigel Bax, Devra Berkowitz, Benjamin Benirschke, Antje Boetius, Nicolas Bourriaud, Autumn Brown, Paul Caiger, Guigone Camus, Sandro Carniel, Lyla Catellier, Alessandro Ceregato, Sallie Chisholm, Sabine Christiansen, Linda van Deursen, Erik van Doorn, Sandra Donnici and Federica Rizzetto, Arah Ecke, Franco Farinelli, Vicki Ferrini, Daniel Fornari, Nicholas Frearson, Brett Freiburger, Fundació Sorigué, Anselm Franke, Philippe Gautier, Lapo Gavioli, Peter R. Girguis, Gabriele Goettsche-Wanli, Roberto González García, Matthias Haeckel, Patrick Heimbach, Stefan Helmreich, Jon Herbertsson, Ying Minako Hiemann, Porter Hoagland, Jon Howland, Barbara Hörhan, David Hrankovic, Carlos Islam, Monique Jeudy Ballini, Sarah Kaehlert, Taholo Kami, Kai Kaschinski, Willis Kingery, Daria Kiseleva, Udo Kittelmann, Annith Klink, Kenneth D. Kostel, Barry Lalley, Andone Lavery, Joel K. Llopiz, Michael W. Lodge, Maria Filomena Loreto, Simona Malvezzi, Marian V. Mellin, Ute Meta Bauer, Armand Mevis, Robert Milne, Edit Molnár, John Momori, María Montero Sierra, Sandor Mulsow, Patrick Nason, Giacomo Nerozzi, Bige Örer, Emin Özsoy, Maureen Penjueli, Nadia Pinardi, Angela Pomaro, Ulrike Prange, Piotr Rachalewski, Filipa Ramos Goncalves, Lisa Rave, Lisa Raymond, Markus Reymann, Marzia Rovere, William Ryan, Mari Sanden, Carsten Schirnick, Mira Schröder, Florian Schneider, Marcel Schwierin, Mauro Sclavo, Simone Sentall, Isabella Seràgnoli, Miguel de Serpa Soares, David Sherman, Allegra Shorto, Trudi Sieland, Jan Steffen, Volker Steinbach, Nils Strackbein, Territorial Agency (John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog), Peter Thompson, Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, Sara Tjossem, Christina Tony, Fabio Trincardi, Sebastian Unger, Philip Ursprung, Ana Vallés Blasco, Ann Vanreusel, Dagny Vedder, Davor Vidas, Luigi Vigliotti, Paula Vilaplana de Miguel, Andreas Villwock, Paige West, Dana R. Yoerger, Jan Zalasiewicz, Francesco Zanot, Daniela Zyman