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Mare Nostrum: fragile vita

— Curated by Maritima01 project

17 — 20 November 2020

Mare Nostrum: fragile vita
Still from "A Snake Performance", Xenia Dranysh, film, 4 min, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

“There is great power in the indeterminate.” – Cy Gavin

The word Mediterranean literally translates as “in the middle of the earth”. The Mediterranean Sea had been a cradle of great empires and rich cultures and a source of myths, legends, art and discoveries for more than three thousand years – and to this day it shapes relationships between people.

It is a substance that has a life of its own – it breathes, it changes its shape, it changes its state – from utter serenity to ardent storms. It is a microcosm full of mysteries, incredible creatures and fascinating processes.

Over the centuries, we have ravenously consumed and exploited the resources of the sea through overfishing, plastic pollution, the concreting of the coast etc. And this is a planetary danger.

The Mediterranean represents only 1.5% of the earth’s surface, but it concentrates almost all the potentially catastrophic problems for the entire planet. The exhibition “Mare Nostrum: fragile vita” and Maritima project shed light on the activity of contemporary artists and scientists who study current problems, research newly discovered species and the threats they are facing and try to find solutions. We want to draw public attention to the environmental problems of the Mediterranean region and to the important of investigating mysteries of the sea.

“Two billion years ago, cyanobacteria oxygenated the atmosphere and powerfully disrupted life on Earth,” says former New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin. “But they didn’t know it. We’re the first species that’s become a planet-scale influence and is aware of that reality. That’s what distinguishes us.”


Enrique Ramirez, Lauso la mare e tente’n terro, film, 26 min, 4K, 2020

The first sailors told that the Mediterranean Sea was a sea in the middle of the land, “Mar Medi Terraneum”, an intermediate region between sea and land. Thus the sea both united and separated the world.

Lauso la mare e tente’n terro, cleverly combines features of fact and fiction. The spectator follows two lonely characters, a man and a woman,one speaking in French, the other in English. Their confrontation on the screen through a succession of images indicates a distance between their two worlds, one coming from the South and the other from the North, yet connected by their posture facing the sea. The narration takes place in the form of off-screen voices, hidden off-screen images and, on the contrary, narration in the foreground. The texts are spoken in varied tones, ranging from the point of view of the thinker and poet subtly recounting the origins and consequences of the invisible problem of rising sea levels.

Text credits to Anna Kerekes


Yann Toma, In clinging to the turtle’s back, film, 12 min, 2020

Developed and produced in collaboration with Valencian scientists from IMEDMAR UCV in the framework of Maritima01 project

The project “In clinging to the turtle’s back” places Yann Toma’s creation in the new trajectory of the work. After the Plant-Being, which he links to several botanical gardens around the world, he summons the Turtle-Being, who views the world with more slowness, more instinct, a certain sense of foresight and wisdom. Here, the turtle is envisioned as the embodiment of artistic energy. The artist envisages solutions, including light filters to improve the turtles’ gaze as well as the deployment of an ability to reach the nesting beaches. To feel the world and its effrangements through the strength of the turtle increases the potentialities of the artistic act in contact with populations and natural environments.

The aim of the work is to raise awareness among the population by involving them, mainly children, in a participatory process. Each of participants will have experienced an existential reflection on the future of turtles. This work also aims to promote the resolution of a conflit between turtles and people.


Fermín Jiménez Landa, La Historia de Apnea, film, 6 min, 2020

Developed and produced in collaboration with Valencian scientists from IMEDMAR UCV in the framework of Maritima01 project

An atypical documentary film made up of content filmed in IMEDMar UCV laboratory and in other places around the Mediterranean Sea, as well as archive footage. the video is about ecology, logic of extractivism of the last centuries, the sculptural, spatial, botanical and social function of sponges and also about our respiratory function and the ability to resist. A body of work will emerge from the interest in the Mediterranean sea and in the islands as a utopian place. A centripetal and centrifugal force at the same time guides us to relate antagonistic themes that are joined by a fine but tenacious thread.


Kalie Granier, Priority Habitat, film, 3 min, 2020

Developed in collaboration with Valencian scientists from IMEDMAR UCV in the framework of Maritima01 project

PRIORITY HABITAT video project relates to Posidonia Oceanica, an herb endemic to the Mediterranean Sea.

Posidonia meadows are on the verge of extinction. As part of the residency Maritima 01, I worked in close dialogue with scientists from the Idemar institute in Valencia in Spain and in collaboration with a Mediterranean diver, a dancer, a 3D designer, and a musician.

This film is a shamanic dance that explores the underwater movement of the Marine Plant Posidonia Oceanica as a quest for survival. The film depicts the spiritual journey of a hybrid being’s metamorphosis into a creature half-human half plant. At the border of two living species. This project sits at the intersection of art, performance, science, ecological commitment, and our actions in the face of global warming.


Mariagrazia Pontorno, Nobilis Golden Moon, film, 53 min, 2020

Developed and produced in collaboration with Valencian scientists from IMEDMAR UCV in the framework of Maritima01 project 

The work Nobilis Golden Moon underlines the desacralization of Mediterraneum through a process of extinction of one of its symbols and its sentinels, Pinna Nobilis. It is a large mussel which exceeds the height of a meter.

​The video is a personal and partially autobiographical reportage but with dreamlike hues lost in childhood and dreams, the main theme of which is the Moon. The Moon plays an important role in the vital rhythms of Pinna Nobilis, and in a different way its sensitivity to the satellite has been noticed both by scientists and by the“masters of byssus”, people working with byssus, a golden yarn with a thousand-year tradition produced by the mollusc gland. This work is evolving with artist’s experiences in relation to Maritima01 residence program, the meetings with scientist, the visit to IMEDMAR, my trips to Valencia and Sardinia.

​Nobilis Golden Moon contains many ideas and reflections about the relation between scientific and traditional (sometimes magic) thought Mariagrazia was carrying on in the last years. This work is a game with many layers that together are going to compose a personal and collective narration. An Ode to the Mediterranean in the Moonlight.


Xenia Dranysh, A Snake Performance, film, 4 min, 2019

“Interaction with nature is in many ways a revelation which allows us to learn more about ourselves, our feelings, our perception, and our capabilities. To be in nature and to become one with it or to be a completely alien separate entity. I am interested in textures, reliefs and surfaces atypical for the cityscape. The Mediterranean Sea is a powerful element, an intense energy that opens up a new spectrum of states and sensations. My work is about interaction with different landscapes, the coastal zone and the sea. I have had to become something other than myself, separate from the chaotic buzz of the mind and entrust myself to the rhythm and the breath of the world of the sea, to immerse into a meditative improvisation and forget — at least temporarily — who I am.”

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