BxNU SYMPOSIUM: A Perfect and Absolute Blank (03): Walker and Bromwich

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.

Zoë Walker & Neil Bromwich, artists

Zoë Walker and Neil Bromwich are known internationally for their large-scale sculptural works, participatory events and exhibitions that invite audiences to imagine better worlds. Their ambitious, expansive art works re-ignite Utopian ideologies through the use of protest, pageant, celebration and contemplation, and have, at their core, a collective desire for an alternative way of living.

They are currently developing a project called Who Owns The Sea which looks at the complexity of issues surrounding what has been described as the space race towards perfecting the perfect marine renewable currently taking place on Orkney  the world centre of Marine Renewable development. Walker & Bromwich explore the intricacies of a small island community as it strives to find a balance between the desires of multi national corporations and local needs within a unique and fragile environment. 

Who Owns The Sea Asks - How do economic, social and environmental debates about marine ownership and exploitation overlap with cultural understandings or emotional attachments to the land and sea around Scotland and the northern UK? 

Zoë Walker and Neil Bromwich are an established collaborative duo based in Glasgow, whose work has been presented at Tate Britain, London; Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead; The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne; Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; Thessaloniki Biennale, Greece; and other international venues in Europe, Asia and the Pacific region. A monograph on their work is published by John Hansard Gallery and is available through Cornerhouse Publishing.

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

Speaker Zoƫ Walker & Neil Bromwich
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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