Tidalectics and curating the oceanic

Online lecture by Stefanie Hessler / Q & A with Borbála Soós

January 31, 2023, 6 pm (CET)
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Event will be held in English

Poet and historian Kamau Brathwaite coined the term “tidalectics” in his writing as an alternative to the dialectics of Western thought. The concept prompts a consideration of what worldviews and imaginaries might arise from ways of thinking and being rooted in water and the incessant movement of the tides, rather than in land. This cyclical alternative reading of history brings to the fore stories of migration brought across the oceans, the roaring resonance of hurricanes in poetry, rising sea levels and other effects of climate change, and the fluctuating rhythmic soundings of the waves at sea as they dissolve ideas of fixity, static holds, and appropriation for more fluid, hybrid, relations. This lecture will propose tidalectics as a curatorial guiding principle in exhibitions exploring the oceanic space, from ecology to geopolitical and cultural conditions, from the sensorium to mythologies, from struggles for sovereignty to environmental justice.

Stefanie Hessler is a curator, writer, and editor focusing on ecologies and its various social intersections. She is the director of the independent non-profit art center Swiss Institute in New York. Prior to that, she was the director of Kunsthall Trondheim in Norway, where she co-led the research-based exhibition “Sex Ecologies” and edited the accompanying compendium on queer ecologies, sexuality, and care in more-than-human worlds (published with The Seed Box and MIT Press, 2021). Other recent curatorial projects include the 17th MOMENTA Biennale titled “Sensing Nature” in Tiohtià:ke/Mooniyaang/Montreal; “Rising Tides/Down to Earth” at Gropius Bau in Berlin (2020), and “Joan Jonas: Moving Off the Land II” at Ocean Space in Venice (2019). Hessler’s single-authored book Prospecting Ocean was published by MIT Press and TBA21–Academy in 2019, and she has edited numerous volumes including Tidalectics: Imagining an Oceanic Worldview through Art and Science (MIT Press and TBA21–Academy, 2018).

Borbála Soós (1984, Budapest) is a UK-based curator and an active advocate, participant and organiser of artistic and ecological research. Borbála’s practice responds to, disrupts and enriches environmental thinking and related social, political and decolonial urgencies. She holds an MA in Art History and Film Studies, ELTE, Budapest (2009) and an MA in Curating Contemporary Art, Royal College of Art, London (2012). Between 2012 and 2019 she was director/curator at the contemporary art galleryTenderpixel, in central London. Since 2022 she has been working at Eastside Projects, Birmingham as Artist Caretaker, including curating the gallery's Public Programme. She has been visiting lecturer at Goldsmiths College, the Royal College of Art, Central Saint Martins and Edinburgh College of Art among others. She curated exhibitions and projects in collaboration with ICA, London; Camden Arts Centre, London; CCA Derry-Londonderry; Rupert, Vilnius; OFF-Biennale, Budapest; Trafó House of Contemporary Arts, Budapest; Karlin Studios/FUTURA, Prague; Kunsthalle Bratislava and tranzit, Bratislava...


Event is part of the How to Live Together? series of conversations curated by Judit Angel, Alessandra Pomarico, Borbála Soós, Ovidiu Ţichindeleanu within the Art Connected 2022 – 2023 subprogram of

ERSTE Foundation is main partner of tranzit.
Supported using public funding by Slovak Arts Council.

Media partners:, Flash Art CZ & SK,

Anne Duk Hee Jordan, Intimacy of Strangers, exhibition view presented at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts as part of MOMENTA 2021. Photo: Jean-Michael Seminaro