Tidalectics as an Artistic and Curatorial Method
Stefanie Hessler

Drawing of Kamau Brathwaite on the cover of Liviticus, one of his last collections of poetry rendered in the Sycorax Video Style. Drawing by Fay Helfer.

In this opening talk, Stefanie Hessler will discuss artworks and curatorial methodologies that not only speak about but also through their oceanic subject matter in a performative way. The term tidalectics, coined by the historian and poet Kamau Brathwaite to articulate a worldview that eschews static land and evolves alongside water and flux, serves as an anchor to analyze artworks and curatorial work guided by oceanic thinking. Hessler will show that through a tidalectic methodology, which takes cues from natural processes such as the ebb and flow of the tides, current ecological, societal and onto-epistemological shifts can be addressed productively.

Stefanie Hessler is a curator, writer, and editor. Her work focuses on ecologies and technology from intersectional feminist and queer perspectives. She is the director of Kunsthall Trondheim in Norway, and project co-leader for the research-based transdisciplinary exhibition “Sex Ecologies” in collaboration with The Seed Box environmental humanities collaboratory, as well as editing the accompanying compendium on queer ecologies, sexuality, and care in more-than-human worlds (forthcoming, The MIT Press, 2021). Between 2020–22 Hessler is visiting research scholar at the Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media at Westminster University in London, UK. She is curator of the 17th MOMENTA | Biennale de l’image, titled “Sensing Nature” in Montreal, Canada (2021). She is the author of Prospecting Ocean (The MIT Press, 2019), and has edited books like Life Itself (Koenig Books and Moderna Museet, 2016) and Tidalectics: Imagining an Oceanic Worldview through Art and Science (The MIT Press, 2018).

Recent curatorial projects include “Frida Orupabo: How did you feel when you come out of the wilderness” (2021) and “Jenna Sutela: NO NO NSE NSE” at Kunsthall Trondheim (2020); “Down to Earth” (with Thomas Oberender, Tino Sehgal, Frédérique Aït-Touati, and others) at the Berliner Festspiele / Gropius Bau in Berlin (2020); “Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Tomás Saraceno: More-than-humans” at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid (2019); “Joan Jonas: Moving Off the Land II” at TBA21–Academy’s Ocean Space in Venice (2019); the 6th Athens Biennale (2018); and the symposium “Practices of Attention” at the 33rd Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (with D. Graham Burnett, 2018).