Who knows what an ocean is?
What is your relation to the ocean?
Is there an element of the ocean that is particularly relevant to you?
The Oceanographies Institute, initiated by Marialena Marouda in 2018, functions as a collaborative platform for artistic practices that study human-ocean kinships. Its focus is, essentially, the relation between two bodies of water: the human body and the world ocean. TOI gives particular attention to affectual and sensual encounters between the two bodies. The institute therefore studies the relations of hands to mud, ears to the breaking the waves, feet to the feeling of sinking, rather than the ocean “in itself”, as if devoid of the human presence. It collects, analyzes and reenacts people's personal stories about their encounters with the ocean. Performance, sound art, and storytelling are primarily the tools it uses for this study.
Where scientific researchers use microscopes and petri dishes, TOI uses microphones and the sound of the voice, or the sound of objects –a beanbag, as hands sink into it, for example– as a means to study human experiences of the ocean. Currrently, the research evolves around the practice of polyphonic reading and storytelling. During public performances of TOI fragments of language(s) from a multiplicity of voices –the actual voices of the performers and the virtual voices of the initial interlocutors–, sounds of objects, textures and sensations conspire to summon the ocean, making it appear as if by magic, by recreating the circumstances in which it was encountered.
The choice to work as an Oceanographies Institute came from a need to reclaim the validity of certain knowledges of the ocean, the ones that are inherent to encountering it, the ones that perhaps are considered too fragile and therefore are unaccounted for. A main reason for gathering these situated knowledges is their strong political and social connotations. The question of one’s relation to the ocean reveals a complex network of interrelated issues: from the study of the lives of small shrimp to seasickness to the gentrification of Ostende’s Vismijn district. For the Oceanographies Institute, each singular relation to the ocean manifests that the personal is political.
By and with The Oceanographies Institute
Performance: Marialena Marouda, Elpida Orfanidou and Charlie Usher
Dramaturgy: Nassia Fourtouni
Coproducers: nadine vzw., C-Takt and Kaap
Further Residencies in: Q-02, WorkspaceBrussels and BUDA Kortrijk
For the year 2019-2020 TOI was supported with a trajectory subsidy of the VGC.