Oceanomania: Souvenirs of Mysterious Seas


From the Expedition to the Aquarium

A project by Mark Dion and the NMNM, co curated by Sarina Basta and Cristiano Raimondi (NMNM)

Oceanomania investigates the evolution of our fascination with the sea in time and space, design, literature and art, revealing how the uncanny and marvelous have inspired artistic research.

The expedition as a scientific quest was fueled by the ideals of the Enlightenment where the marvelous and the esoteric mingled with a quest for knowledge.

The need to understand life’s evolution and its mysteries gave birth to the Wunderkammer. This included the classification of species (taxonomy) and aquariums, recreating an idealised microcosm dedicated to educational study and unlimited wonder.

These systems of attribution of value, and aesthetic choices inherent to their presentation, echo the systems underlying artistic and museum practice. The work of Mark Dion is situated at this intersection as are many of the selected pieces included in Oceanomania. The literary references within the exhibition reflect numerous ideologies around the oceans, and the relationship of human beings to our marine environment, based the Marvelous and the desire for exploitation.
Science fiction and its dystopian universes are all tainted by a sense of foreboding: human's fragile state, an environment on the verge of collapsing, and an unnerving sense of being at the center of one's own destruction. Both symbolically and emotionally, humans are aware of their possible downfall and of being part of a complex system in constant evolution.

Current studies reveal today that the sea contains an abundance of species even more diverse that we could have thought. At the same time, the depletion of these marine resources through human negligence threatens their existence in the present and future. Oceanomania reflects the wonder inspired by the marine world and melancholia upon acknowledging its fragility.

The show will be part of a journey between the Nouveau Musée National and the Oceanographic museum of Monaco.

Works by :
Matthew Barney, Ashley Bickerton, David Brooks, Bernard Buffet, Jean Painlevé, Man Ray, David Casini, Peter Coffin, Mark Dion, Katharina Fritsch, Klara Hobza, Isola e Norzi, Pam Longobardi, Claude Monet, Alphonse de Neuville, Alexis Rockman, James Prosek, Allan Sekula, Xaviera Simmons, Laurent Tixador & Abraham Poincheval, Rosemarie Trockel

Films by :
Jean Painlevé, Man Ray

Exhibit Artwork


Installation Photos

< Exhibit Gallery