Tue. - Sat. 10am - 5pm, Sun. 10.30am - 3.30pm

The Sea Around Us 

Feb. 29, 2020 - May 31, 2020

John Akomfrah, Vertigo Sea, 2015. Three channel HD colour video installation, 7.1 sound. 48 minutes 30 seconds Image Credit: © Smoking Dogs Films; Courtesy Smoking Dogs Films and Lisson Gallery

John Akomfrah (GH/GB), Forensic Oceanography (GB), Shaun Gladwell (AU), Karen Power (IE), Suzanne Winterling (DE).


The Sea Around Us is an ambitious, large-scale group exhibition that explores our complex relationship with the ocean through installation, film, participation, and sound. John Akomfrah’s epic 2015 film Vertigo Sea and Forensic Oceanography’s Liquid Violence (2017) frame a conversation on our interactions with the sea in the Anthropocene age. The show is accompanied by a new music performance & sound installation by composer Karen Power, and a specially commissioned essay by artist Rosie O’Reilly (IE).


The works in this exhibition reflect the motion of the sea, at a time when rapid change is rocking the very foundations of the world we live in.  Through these visual and sound-based works, we invite you to contemplate the ebb and flow of the ocean, and humankinds’ multi-faceted relationship with it.

The sea offers us the idea of the infinite, the unknowable. A huge expanse that invites us to wonder about the limits of our world and reality. The sea has been a source of inspiration to artists, thinkers and writers for hundreds of years – its sometime serenity juxtaposed with its sublime terrifying power.  The sea’s seemingly inexhaustible abundance and the promise of what lies beyond, have invited humankind to strike out in exploration in an effort to understand its vastlessness and to enrich themselves with the knowledge, sustenance and treasure they find there.

“Jack Butler Yeats spent his boyhood in Sligo town, a small port on the Atlantic edge … The sea brought the outside world to the doors of a small town in a casual mention of foreign cities, strange words and wild doings.” Ernie O’Malley, 1945

The sheer immensity of the sea, means it cannot be seen as a clear-cut theme or topic that can be easily explained or understood. It has many aspects, and our relationship with it is complex and contradictory. The sea is a channel that enables communication and trade, and that casts knowledge and ideas up on many distant shores.  While the sea is a source of life and abundance; it is also a graveyard, not only for ancient civilizations, but for the many who bravely risk its depths in search of peace today. Life within the sea, which once seemed so limitless, has fallen victim to the actions of the Anthropocene age, and the effects of this are becoming more scientifically clear all the time.


Supported by Hazelwood Demesne, and the Goethe Institut Irland. 

Goethe Institut

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