The Man and the Ocean. Art’s important role in ocean’s conservation

On 2 October 2021, on the occasion of Venice Art Night, the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe hosted an evening with the actor and musician Sergio Múñiz. Interviewed by Francesca Santoro, Programme Specialist and coordinator of the Ocean Literacy initiative of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission UNESCO, the artist explored the inspiration behind his show L’Onda che verrà and his personal link with the ocean. Afterwards, acting and accompanied by the guitar, he staged some scenes of his show, which depicted the delicate relationship between man and ocean.

Who is the sea? Who am I? We are in a garage. There is a lot of confusion, scattered objects and above all a lot of boxes. You can guess that they are boxes of a recent move. Some are open, others still closed.

Among the boxes you can hardly recognise some objects piled up in disorder, a sail or what remains of it, a guitar and other junk scattered in the disorder. A figure moves in the dark. It is Sergio who is looking for something among the boxes. At one point, he stops and his gaze falls on a stone. He takes it, dusts it, sits down and begins to read slowly.

The L’Onda che verrà show, where Múñiz is both co-author and actor, exhibits the relationship between man and the ocean through the recollections of the protagonist, Sergio, a surfer and angler, who seeks to find an equilibrium between these two sides of his soul.

On Saturday evening, this link between man and ocean emerged during not only Sergio Múñiz’s performance, where he acted, recited monologues and played the guitar accompanied by Andrea Lavelli, but it was also present throughout the initial interview with Francesca Santoro. Asked about the genesis of L’Onda che verrà, Múñiz explored his personal relation with the ocean and described how his experience with it influenced his show.

The theatrical project, briefly performed at Palazzo Zorzi, has developed with UNESCO’s support and it is part of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030. This is an initiative to mobilize the scientific community, governments, the private sector and civil society for a joint research agenda and technological innovation. Additionally, the Decade of Ocean Sciences will expedite the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG14), which calls for the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean, seas, and marine resources.

The essence of Ocean Literacy is the knowledge and understanding of our mutual relationship of influence with the ocean, driving our active decision to think and act sustainably. Not only is the ocean a source of food, energy, raw materials, minerals and, increasingly, of innovative drugs, it also regulates the earth's climate and hosts the greatest diversity of living beings and ecosystems, all of which provide economic, social and aesthetic benefits to humanity. The enormous challenges that are ahead of us, ranging from the climate crisis to the loss of biodiversity and the unregulated exploitation of marine resources, are now more evident than ever.

In such a delicate situation, it is therefore necessary to promote quality education for all, to address these challenges with the applicable solutions. It is also essential to share the message of the importance of ocean’s conservation. This can be done in various ways and art can be one of them, as this event has demonstrated. By transmitting his passion to the audience, Sergio Múñiz’s performance raised awareness on the issue of ocean’s protection and contributed to sharing this message. During the evening, the artist highlighted that, even if in different ways and for different reasons, the ocean is connected to each one of us. Therefore, art played a crucial role in understanding how we are all linked to the ocean and in showing that it is our personal duty to protect it.