Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21) is a leading international art and advocacy foundation created in 2002 by the philanthropist and collector Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza, representing the fourth generation of the Thyssen family’s commitment to the arts and public service. The TBA21 Foundation—based in Madrid and Vienna—stewards the TBA21 Collection and its outreach activities, which include exhibitions, public programming and partnerships with other cultural and civic institutions.
In 2011 TBA21 established TBA21–Academy, a cultural ecosystem fostering a deeper relationship to the Ocean through the lens of art to inspire care and action. For a decade, the Academy has been an incubator for collaborative research, artistic production, and new forms of knowledge by combining art and science, resulting in exhibitions, research, and policy interventions.
In 2019, TBA21–Academy launched two initiatives to share its situated research and practice with the public.
Located in the Church of San Lorenzo in Venice, Ocean Space opened in March of 2019 as a planetary center for catalyzing critical ocean literacy, research, and advocacy through the arts. Established and led by TBA21–Academy and building on its expansive work, this embassy for the Ocean fosters engagement and collective action on the most pressing issues facing the Ocean today.
Its digital counterpart, Ocean-Archive.org, is a user-based platform in the making, conceived as a framework for collaborative research that brings together the multitude of voices and stories around the Ocean and connects those striving to nurture and protect it. The aim of the Archive is to break down boundaries between disciplines, media, and formats, dismantling hierarchies between a research paper, an artwork, a navigational chart, or a fisherman’s testimony. Designed as a storytelling and pedagogical tool, the Archive translates current knowledge about the Ocean into a shared language that enables us to make better decisions for urgently needed policies. Created to stimulate action and systemic change, Ocean-Archive.org fosters synergy among art, science, policy, and conservation.
The Academy’s metabolism of researching, producing, digesting, and sharing knowledges created an early career fellowship program led by a transdisciplinary group of fellows and mentors, the Ocean Fellowship, and is disseminated through a freely available digital education program called OCEAN / UNI. It is an intergenerational learning format, combined with a peer-to-peer community platform ocean comm/uni/ty.