Aquatopia: The Imaginary of the Ocean Deep

Tate St Ives, St Ives, Cornwall, United Kingdom
12 Oct 2013 - 26 Jan 2014

Aquatopia is a major exhibition of contemporary and historic art that explores how the ocean deep has been imagined across cultures and through time. The exhibition and the accompanying book reveal how human societies have projected their sexual desires, their will to power, and their fear of difference and mortality onto the often mysterious and weird life-forms the ocean sustains. The ocean deep, in this exhibition, is a dream-state, akin to the unconscious. At the same time, its mythologies represent far-reaching historical processes.

Aquatopia‘s briny depths are populated with ancient sea monsters and futuristic dolphin embassies, sirens and paramilitary gill-men, sperm whales and water babies, shipwrecks and submersibles, giant squid and lecherous octopuses. The ocean’s fantastical species will be represented by iconic paintings, drawings and sculptures by JMW Turner, Marcel Broodthaers, Oskar Kokoshka, Barbara Hepworth, Odilon Redon, Lucian Freud and Hokusai, amongst others. It also includes video, performance, sculpture and painting by more recent significant figures in contemporary art such as Mark Dion, Marvin Gaye (formerly known as Spartacus)  Chetwynd, Sean Landers, The Otolith Group, Simon Starling and Wangechi Mutu.

At Tate St Ives, the exhibition travels to the very edge of the ocean, occupying all of the gallery’s spectacular spaces, overlooking Porthmeor beach.   Presented in collaboration with Nottingham Contemporary, the exhibition at Tate St Ives has been curated by Alex Farquharson, Director of Nottingham Contemporary, with Martin Clark, former Artistic Director and Director of Bergen Kunsthall. Featuring over a hundred and forty artworks, as well as various aquatic artefacts and curios, the exhibition has been supported by loans from museums and private collectors, including Victoria & Albert Museum, National Maritime Museum and Tate’s own collection.

The art in Aquatopia has strong links with powerful literary archetypes, including The Odyssey, The Tempest, The Ancient Mariner, Moby Dick and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The richly illustrated catalogue, published by Nottingham Contemporary and Tate St Ives, in association with Tate Publishing, includes newly commissioned and recent critical essays by leading thinkers and writers on the sea from various disciplines, including Philip Hoare, Marcus Rediker, Marina Warner, Kodwo Eshun, Simon Grant, David Toop and Celeste Olalquiaga, as well as numerous literary works.

Featuring: Ant Farm, Alex Bag & Ethan Kramer, Hernan Bas, John Bellany, Guy Ben-Ner, Ashley Bickerton, Rudolf & Leopold Blaschka, Marcel Broodthaers, Marvin Gaye (formerly known as Spartacus)  Chetwynd, Steve Claydon, Angela Cockayne & Philip Hoare, David Cox the Elder, Liz Craft, Dorothy Cross, Salvador Dali, Francis Danby, Alan Davie, Mark Dion, Mati Diop, Gustave Doré, Dee Ferris, Stanhope Forbes, Lucian Freud, Vidya Gastaldon & Jean-Michel Wicker, Ernst Haeckel, Barbara Hepworth, Katsushika Hokusai, Christian Holstad, Herbert James Draper, Mikhail Karikis, Oskar Kokoschka, Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Sean Landers, William Lionel Wyllie, Andrea Mantegna, Ana Mendieta, Madsen Mompremier, Wangechi Mutu, Willem Ormea, The Otolith Group, Jean Painlevé, Eric Ravilious, Odilon Redon, Germaine Richier, Henry Scott Tuke, Shimabuku, Simon Starling, Ricky Swallow, Juergen Teller, Wolfgang Tillmans, JMW Turner, Marcel Van Eeden, Alfred Wallis, Edward Wadsworth, George Wallace Jardine, Karl Weschke, Jennifer West, Hannah Wilke, Frantz Zephirin







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