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Artists Petrit Halilaj and Álvaro Urbano are set to unveil a new installation, co-commissioned by TBA21–Academy and Audemars Piguet Contemporary. Opening on 22 April 2023 at TBA21–Academy’s Ocean Space in Venice, Italy—within the deconsecrated San Lorenzo Church, the installation marks the first time TBA21–Academy and Audemars Piguet Contemporary are together co-commissioning an artwork. 

The installation forms part of Thus waves come in pairs, Ocean Space’s 2023 exhibition curated by Barbara Casavecchia, a Milan-based independent contemporary art curator and critic. The curatorial team at Audemars Piguet Contemporary and Casavecchia are working closely together with Halijaj and Urbano to support the creation of the co-commissioned installation, the first time the artists are developing a site-specific work together. 

The work blurs our binary sense of the world. An egg-shaped moon, aquatic creatures becoming terrestrial, an orchestra playing a symphony that emerges from the waters and syncs with the moon cycles; these and more stories guide our work at Ocean Space. The installation echoes a children’s song, where young fish go to study at the bottom of the sea in order to study—as we see it—forms of resistance.

Petrit Halilaj and Álvaro Urbano


Halilaj and Urbano share a life together in Berlin yet typically maintain separate practices. Halilaj’s work embraces an array of media and complex worlds that provide space for freedom, desire, intimacy, and identity. Urbano utilises various media to explore notions of space, architecture, and the environmentis practice often intertwines narrative, reality, and fiction.

Together, the duo draws on their personal and collective histories to create new environments, exploring and negotiating the space between two realities: the human and the natural world. Both of their practices offer personal, playful elements that work to ask questions of societal norms.

The installation at Ocean Space echoes a Spanish children’s song Ay mi pescadito, where young fish go to school at the bottom of the sea in order to study. The artists will create an ecosystem that comprises a series of large-scale sculptures of hybrid aquatic and terrestrial creatures, which speaks to creating cohesion as well as exploring harmony (or the lack thereof) between different species, or between living organisms and objects.

A cast of musicians and performers will activate the installation, at varying duration and intervals, throughout the exhibition period.

The collaboration highlights the parallel mission of TBA21–Academy and Audemars Piguet Contemporary: to support artists in research and artistic production which encourages dialogue and imaginative thinking with a global audience.

The exhibition coincides with Biennale Architettura 2023 – the 18th International Architecture Exhibition.

It has been a pleasure to support Petrit Halilaj and Álvaro Urbano in the creation of their shared installation alongside Barbara Casavecchia and TBA21–Academy. Through the nature of the work, Halilaj and Urbano are facilitating an immersive experience for audiences which gets at the heart of Audemars Piguet Contemporary’s mission.

Audrey Teichmann

Art Curator, Audemars Piguet Contemporary

Ocean Space, Chiesa di San Lorenzo, Photo: Enrico Fiorese. Courtesy of TBA21–Academy.

The installation will be on view with free admission at the Church of San Lorenzo from 22 April 2023 until 5 November 2023.


Ocean Space, Church of San Lorenzo, Campo S. Lorenzo, 5067, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy

Opening Hours

Wednesday to Sunday from 11am to 6pm

(Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)

Petrit Halilaj (b. 1986, Kostërrc, Skenderaj-Kosovo) and Álvaro Urbano (b. 1983, Madrid, Spain) are two visual artists based in Berlin. Halilaj’s practice emerges from his personal experiences, reflecting on individual and collective memories, freedoms, and cultural identities and Urbano’s work invites dialogue between different living entities to establish newly conceived environments. Mostly working individually, their common practice combines specific aspects of each artist’s interests and complements each other’s research. Their joint production reflects on the dichotomy between built environments and nature, and on the possibilities of negotiation between these two realities. Halilaj and Urbano jointly attended the artist residencies at MAK Residency, Los Angeles (2016-2017) and at Villa Romana, Florence (2014). Their collaborations have been exhibited in venues such as: Palacio de Cristal, Madrid; Pristina’s National Library, Autostrada Biennale; Brücke-Museum, Berlin; MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Mackey Apartments, Los Angeles; PAC-Pavilion of Contemporary Art, Milan; S.A.T.L.S., Basel; Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn; Villa Romana, Florence.

They are both professors at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts de Paris, France. Their work is included in the Colección Jumex, Mexico City. The artists are jointly represented by ChertLüdde, in Berlin. Halilaj is represented by ChertLüdde, Berlin; kurimanzutto, Mexico/New York; and Mennour, Paris. Urbano is represented by ChertLüdde, Berlin; and TRAVESÍA CUATRO, CDMX/Guadalajara/Madrid.