BxNU Symposium:
A Perfect and Absolute Blank

Friday 16 October 2015 / 10.00-18.00

Eventbrite - BxNU SYMPOSIUM / A Perfect and Absolute Blank

In response to issues raised by BALTIC’s new exhibition Fiona Tan: DEPOT, this symposium will bring together eminent practitioners, artists and theoreticians whose work addresses that least visible, but most present, entity The Sea.

The exhibition includes BALTIC’s spectacular new commission DEPOT, which re-imagines the exhibition of ‘Jonah the Giant Whale’, a preserved whale which toured Europe from the 1950s to the mid-1970s, and Disorient 2009 with imaginaries of trade and travel.

Despite its powerful subconscious and imaginary pull – the source of fantastic creatures and lost cities, the cruel grave of hapless seafarers and travellers – the sea has largely been consigned to the margins of the terrestrial, a mere surface to be traversed in pursuit of capital and territory – Lewis Carol’s ‘perfect and absolute blank!’. Contemporary thought has however taken an oceanic turn – prompted by political, ecological, technological and material shifts – undersea resource extraction, claiming and division of sub maritime territories, seaborne migration and trafficking, overfishing, rising sea levels – all have emerged as concerns of global significance.

Emerging from the research interests of staff at Northumbria University in inter-disciplinarity and the creation of new knowledge across the sciences, humanities and arts, the event will include performances, screening and discussions in order to consider both the impact of human activity upon the 71% of the planet’s surface that is covered by water and how we might think with the liquidity, mobility and volume of the sea to evolve new fluid ontologies of the world we inhabit.

All images © Rona Lee


Bergit Arends, Royal Holloway, University of London
Jane Arnfield, Reader in Arts, Director of Fine & Visual Arts Programmes, Northumbria University
Christine Borland, BALTIC Professor, Northumbria University
Laura Cull, Head of the Department of Theatre & Dance, University of Surrey
Tess Denman-Cleaver, Artistic Director, Tender Buttons
Alec Finley, artist and poet
Toine Horvers, artist
Sandra Johnston, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art, Northumbria University
Rona Lee, Professor of Fine Art, Northumbria University
John Ó Maoilearca, Professor of Film & Television Studies, Kingston University, London
Grace Schwindt, artist
Philip Steinberg, Professor of Political Geography, Durham University
Zoë Walker & Neil Bromwich, artists
Kathryn Yusoff, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at Queen Mary University of London


Standard ticket £15 / Concession* £12.50
10% discount for BALTIC Members

Symposium Lunch Offer
Lunch not provided. To avoid the lunch-time rush you can pre-order a bagged lunch from BALTIC Kitchen when you book your symposium ticket.

*Concession tickets are available to over 60s, unwaged and students with valid NUS card.

Eventbrite - BxNU SYMPOSIUM / A Perfect and Absolute Blank