How is it there? Here…

“How is it there? Here…”, part of the global program WE ARE OCEAN, is a critical geography workshop for the kids of Venice and for anyone around the world living with similar issues, such as environmental degradation of wetlands and growing pollution levels in both the air and the water, coastal erosion, subsidence and increasingly devastating floods. Irresponsible tourism development, depopulation of cities and lack of housing policies may also be of mutual interest. This is an invitation to care about each other, to think of our planet from the perspective of common threats and the potential to share solutions, rather than divide it into tiny clusters that compete with each other. It is developed by artist collective Barena Bianca as venetian iteration of the international project WE ARE OCEAN, commissioned and produced by ARTPORT_making waves with scientific support from We are here Venice and in collaboration with TBA21–Academy. The central focus is to send a message connecting apperently faraway places: talking about our home can mean also talking about a place on the other side of the world, if the threats we face are the same.

The workshop, initially designed to run during the lockdown period from Covid-19, evolved into an analogue format in the following year. While initially the prevailing format was that of ‘mail art’, with the involvement of two fourth-grade classes from the Benedetti Tommaseo high school in Venice, it was possible to develop the project into a didactic and interdisciplinary format. Similarly, the participants were invited to send a letter to Venice – or from Venice to a chosen place, elsewhere – describing why they are interested in the chosen place, why they are concerned, the hopes and dreams they might have for it, thus creating a connection between the place they are writing from and the place they are writing to. The conclusion and presentation of the workshop took place in the spaces of the CNR Ismar in Venice during the Global Program “We Are Ocean” curated by Artport Making Waves.

The digital map created together with the artist Donato Spinelli archives the letters collected during the project.