Sensing the Sea is a group exhibition using notions of the sea as a thematic starting point for new artistic productions and exchanges between Denmark and China. Opening on July 6, 2024 at The Nordic Contemporary Art Center (NAC) in Xiamen, China, the exhibition includes artworks by Arendse Krabbe,  Christine Laquet , Gedske Ramløv, Karen Land Hansen, Mariana Gomes Gonçalves, Nina Wengel, and Studio ThinkingHand. 

It is organized by Copenhagen-based curators Cila Brosius, who has been specializing in Chinese contemporary art for the past ten years, and Tijana Miskovic, who focuses on transcultural art practices. Sensing the Sea, previously shown at SAK Kunstbygning in Svendborg in an altered form, has adjusted and transformed to a Chinese context in the port city of Xiamen, opening for new dialogues across cultures and geographical areas. In our increasingly polarized world, it seems pertinent to focus on interconnectivity, which is what the fluidity of the water allows us to embrace. Sensing the Sea is an exhibition that not only crosses geographical borders, but also invites us to think beyond the ideological, bodily and disciplinary boundaries.  

The exhibition explores a variety of ocean-related topics through different artistic media and conceptual approaches. Krabbe and Gomes Gonçalves’ collaborative video- and sound installation Sympathetic Resonance  (2024) explores the notion of resonances by immersing visitors in sound and moving images recorded along the seashores of Lisbon, Copenhagen, and Xiamen, while also inviting audiences to take part in instruction-based activities. Wengel’s large-scale, abstract paintings embrace both the comfort and threat the sea embodies, while also reflecting on the overwhelming notion of human-induced marine contamination. Ramløv’s hyper-detailed drawings and sound installation create parallels between the human lungs, the ebb and flow of marine tides, and the role of the moon in causing this breath-like phenomenon. Laquet, Land Hansen and Studio ThinkingHand collaborate closely with scientists, approaching the sea as an eco-biological realm: Laquet imagines a nonhuman post-petrochemical world by using materials such as white Dehua porcelain to address coral bleaching, and cyanobacteria to create pigments for drawings. Land Hansen’s floating sculpture exposes what is normally invisible to the human eye by visualizing the seabed, based on data obtained through an ongoing collaboration between the artist and a team of scientists from GEUS (The Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland).  Meanwhile, StudioThinkingHand’s sculptural work DEEP TIME (2023) examines ancient history by incorporating marine sediment up to 12,000 years old into ice-core-shaped glass columns, whereas INTERTIDAL SYNTHESIS (2024) examines the in-between-zones of machines and organisms by filming soft robotic agents interacting with different intertidal environments.

The exhibition is kindly supported by The Nordic Contemporary Art Center (NAC), S.C. Van Fonden, The Royal Danish Embassy in Denmark, Slots og Kulturstyrelsen, Grosserer L. F. Foghts Fond, and The Danish Arts Foundation. Special thanks to Pays de La Loire Region, Loire-Atlantique Department, Roscoff Marine Station, ADAGP, PMH Systems, GEUS, Danish Art Workshops, Luzerne Factory and CiYu Cultural Creative Co. Ltd, Fujian Dehua.