• Image shows a large fishing net suspended in a gallery space, and full of marine rubbish
    Image: Andre Kong Studio, Whale in the Room, Marine plastic, nets, lights, chairs
  • Image shows a group of people standing on rocky beacj with large bags of marine rubbish in front of them
    Image: Clean Ocean Sailing. Photo: Adam Hill
  • Image shows large bags of marine rubbish on the deck of a boat
    Image: Clean Ocean Sailing

01 Mar 2024

18:15 — 19:30

The Engine Room, The Exchange


18.15 Welcome from Clean Ocean Sailing

Anthropologist Antje Scharenberg, says:

“Half of our planet is covered by an area that belongs to all of us: the high seas. Here lies an area outside of national jurisdiction which is defined as the common heritage of humankind by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Yet, paradoxically, in our institutional political system, there are few ways to exercise political agency over decisions concerning the ocean. There is, in Chris Armstrong’s words, an „ocean-shaped hole” in our democracy.

This talk turns to those who set out to change this institutional lack of attention to the ocean, namely maritime movements and civil society actors who act politically at the sea. Based on findings from an ongoing four years long ethnographic research project at the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland) and the University of Southampton (UK), this talk discusses three sites of contemporary ocean activism (the ship, the seagrass meadow and the deep seabed) to illustrate how politics in the ocean concern all of us – and how we may collectively take care of this planetary common space.”

19.15 Q&A

This talk is part of a new series of monthly late openings on the first Friday of each month with art, talks, performance, food and drink.

Image:Whale in the Room is an installation by andre kong studio that serves as a stark reminder of the pressing issue of marine plastic pollution and its devastating impact on sea life and coastal ecosystems. The 350 kgs of plastics, retrieved from the sea by Clean Ocean Sailing, a Cornish organisation dedicated to cleaning expeditions, vividly represents the amount of plastic waste that enters the world’s oceans every single second. Whale in the Room is part of Storm Warning and is exhibited at The Exchange.

Clean Ocean Sailing. Photo: Alex Turner



Clean Ocean Sailing (COS) is an award-winning volunteer organisation taking direct action to improve the marine environment around Cornwall. In doing so, COS contributes to the creation of a circular economy around marine plastics, striving to raise awareness about the Ocean Crisis and its consequences for local, national and global communities. COS conducts carbon neutral sailing clean-up expeditions around Cornwall and Isles of Scilly aboard its116-year old sailing vessel to inaccessible coastline. So far COS volunteers have recovered more than 60 tons of marine plastic waste. 350 kg of this marine plastic is part of the Andre Kong Studio installation Whale in the Room, showing as part of Storm Warning at The Exchange.

“We work with volunteers of all ages and backgrounds. Our central message is to Rethink, Reduce, Recover, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle the marine plastic devastating our marine environments. COS activities are achievable by all, encouraging people from every walk of life to join in and empowering them to make a difference.”


Antje Scharenberg, photo: Peter Guenzel



Antje Scharenberg is a social movement scholar whose research focuses on ocean activism and transnational civil society. In her current project as post-doctoral fellow at the University of St Gallen, Switzerland, and the University of Southampton, UK, Antje explores what it means to act politically in European seas, based on ethnographic work with civil sea rescue activists in the Mediterranean and marine environmental actors across the European Atlantic. Antje did her PhD in the department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, and has been researching international civil society in different contexts since 2016.

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Venue: The Engine Room, The Exchange
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18 Nov 2023 - 13 Apr 2024

Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange