A Thousand Secrets

Curated by Mae A. Miller

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From the maritime origins of the "quarantine," to undersea fiber optic cables that mediate the Netflix Party and Zoom classroom, to the ship Evergiven's blockage of the Suez Canal, oceanic infrastructures and crosscurrents have quietly structured the contemporary crises shaping our global social reality. What does it mean to listen to global crises from the vantage point of oceanic currents? What histories of imperial extraction, racial-colonial violence, and relationality come into focus as we listen through the waterline and across the storied waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Ocean littorals?

A Thousand Secrets is an immersive, multi-sensory exhibition that engages the sonic multiplicity and opacity of water as a provocation for alternative modes of collectively listening to a world in crisis. Dionne Brand (2002) describes the sound of the ocean as a "thousand secrets, all whispered at the same time." Inspired by Brand, A Thousand Secrets holds multiple registers of world-making in tense relation, and grapples with the ineffable stories of the sea that are, "inaudible to ordinary ears but still detectable with the right listening device, like the mother's ear" (Habila 2019). Working against the spectacle of human suffering, each artwork in A Thousand Secrets unsettles conventional listening devices to uncover entangled, nonlinear histories of extraction and whispered traces of the otherwise through the transformative properties of the ocean.
  • artists:
    Beatrice Glow
    Renée Green
    Deborah Jack
    Tuan Andrew Nguyen
    Trevor Paglen
    Tabita Rezaire
Mae A. Miller is an interdisciplinary scholar, curator, and museum educator. She has held curatorial fellowships at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts (NYC) and Impakt Centre for Media Culture and is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Geography Department at the University of California, Berkeley.

Installation Images

Brochure Images

Deborah Jack, Drawn by water: (Sea) Drawings in (3) Acts: Act Three: (...sinking), remembered that the embrace of oceans is the love I know, and yearned for a familiar shore that... 2018, Still.

Beatrice Glow with Rudi Fofid, Alexandre Giradeu, and Pauchi Sasaki, O Banda, Rhunhattan Project, 2017, Single channel video, 3 min. (still).

Tuan Andrew Nguyen, The Last Woman on Earth, 2020, Pigment print on Hahnemuhle paper, 27 x 48 in.

Renée Green, Endless Dreams and Water Between, 2009, Film, 74 min. (still).


Tabita Rezaire, Deep Down Tidal, 2017, Video installation, 18 minutes (still,detail).


Trevor Paglen, Colombia-Florida Subsea Fiber (CFX-1), NSA/GCHQ-Tapped Undersea Cable, Caribbean Sea, 2015, C-Print, 60 x 48 in.

apexart’s program supporters past and present include the National Endowment for the Arts, Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the Kettering Family Foundation, the Buhl Foundation, The Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Spencer Brownstone, the Kenneth A. Cowin Foundation, Epstein Teicher Philanthropies, The Greenwich Collection Ltd., William Talbott Hillman Foundation/Affirmation Arts Fund, the Fifth Floor Foundation, the Consulate General of Israel in New York, The Puffin Foundation, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Governor and administered by LMCC, funds from NYSCA Electronic Media/Film in Partnership with Wave Farm: Media Arts Assistance Fund, with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, as well as the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.