BxNU SYMPOSIUM: A Perfect and Absolute Blank (02): Philip Steinberg

Publication Date 16 Oct 2015

BxNU SYMPOSIUM: A Perfect and Absolute Blank
16 October 2015, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

Panel 1: Who owns the sea?

In response to issues raised BALTIC exhibition Fiona Tan: DEPOT, this symposium will bring together eminent practitioners, artists and theoreticians whose work addresses that least visible but most present entity, The Sea. The exhibition includes BALTIC’s spectacular new commission DEPOT, which re-imagines the exhibition of ‘Jonah the Giant Whale’, a preserved whale which toured Europe from the 1950s to the mid-1970s, and Disorient 2009 with imaginaries of trade and travel.

Despite its powerful subconscious and imaginary pull - the source of fantastic creatures and lost cities, the cruel grave of hapless seafarers and travellers - the sea has largely been consigned to the margins of the terrestrial, a mere surface to be traversed in pursuit of capital and territory – Lewis Carol’s ‘perfect and absolute blank!’ Contemporary thought has however taken an oceanic turn - prompted by political, ecological, technological and material shifts - undersea resource extraction, claiming and division of sub maritime territories, seaborne migration and trafficking, overfishing, rising sea levels – all have emerged as concerns of global significance.

Emerging from the research interests of staff at Northumbria University in inter-disciplinarity and the creation of new knowledge across the sciences, humanities and arts, the event will include performances, screening and discussions in order to consider both the impact of human activity upon the 71% of the planet’s surface that is covered by water and how we might think with the liquidity, mobility and volume of the sea to evolve new fluid ontologies of the world we inhabit.

Curated and convened by Jane Arnfield, Reader in Arts, Director of Fine & Visual Arts Programmes, Northumbria University; Christine Borland, BALTIC Professor, Northumbria University; Sandra Johnston, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Northumbria University; Rona Lee, Professor of Fine Art, Northumbria University and Hannah Marsden, Adult Public Programmes Assistant, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.

Philip Steinberg, Professor of Political Geography, Durham University

Philip Steinberg is a political geographer whose work focuses on the intersection of political and cultural geographies in environments that destabilise assumed notions of ‘place’ as static, determinate, and boundable. From his earliest work on the world-ocean (The Social Construction of the Ocean, Cambridge UP, 2001) to his recent work on the Arctic (Contesting the Arctic: Politics and Imaginaries in the Circumpolar North, IB Tauris, 2015), Phil’s research has explored the challenges that emerge as legal and political regulatory systems that assume determinate boundaries between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, ‘land’ and ‘sea’, and ‘foreground (society)’ and ‘background (environment)’ are applied to world regions and phenomena characterised by dynamism, transformation, and indeterminacy. He presently is director of IBRU: the Centre for Borders Research at Durham University, where he coordinates the Project on Indeterminate and Changing Environments: Law, the Anthropocene, and the World (the ICE LAW Project).

A full schedule of the day and biographies of all the speakers can be found in the delegate pack, available here:

Speaker Philip Steinberg
Format MPEG 4
Month October 2015
Keywords BxNU Institute of Contemporary Art, Critically Engaged, interdisciplinary
Related Events BxNU SYMPOSIUM: A Perfect and Absolute Blank (16 October 2015), Fiona Tan: Depot (10 July - 1 November 2015)
Related Gallery BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

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