Leviathan is an ambitious ten-part film cycle conceived and directed by Shezad Dawood inaugurated in Venice in May 2017 to coincide with the 57th Art Biennale, looking at some of the urgent issues of our times.

In dialogue with a wide range of marine biologists, oceanographers, political scientists, neurologists and trauma specialists, Leviathan envisages a future very much like our present to consider possible links between borders, mental health and marine welfare. Each episode is taken from the point of view of a different character and their journey.

The project also contains a dynamic series of textiles, sculptures and neons, collectively imagining a world where the fault lines between marine welfare, mental health and migration are not fully understood or responded to.

Following Venice, further episodes and iterations are now planned over a four-year period, with a final presentation at the end of 2021. Touring venues include MOSTYN, Wales (UK), Barakat Contemporary, Seoul (Korea), The Atlantic Project (UK), HE.RO, Amsterdam (NL), A Tale of a Tub, Rotterdam (NL), Bluecoat, Liverpool (UK), MOCA, Toronto and Toronto Biennial (Canada), CCA Tel Aviv (Israel), La Panacée, Montpellier (F).

Further details about upcoming exhibitions, screenings and events can be found below. Further details about past presentations can be found here.


current presentations

Leviathan: On Narrative and Philosophical Systems
3 November–12 January 2018
HE.RO, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

18 November 2018–27 January 2019
A Tale of a Tub, Rotterdam, The Netherlands


future presentations

Bluecoat, Liverpool, UK
MOCA, Toronto and Toronto Biennial of Art, Canada

CCA Tel Aviv, Israel
La Panacée, Montpellier, France

Public Programme

Through a dynamic Public Programme, Leviathan brings together specialists from the fields of marine welfare, migration and mental health that the artist has been in dialogue with to inform the project. These curated events and conversations anchor the project in the present challenges that we face as a global community.

Recordings of all conversations can be found hereResearch papers commissioned and published by Leviathan can be found here

    10 May–25 August 2017

  • 10 May 2017

  • from 4pm
    Underwater Noise Sonic Performance*
    Seth Ayyaz in collaboration
    with Aleksandra Kruss (CNR-ISMAR)

    *As part of the opening event. By invitation only.

  • 11 May 2017

  • 12pm
    Alien Species
    Tiziano Scovacricchi (CNR – ISMAR)

    Leviathan: A Beginning
    Shezad Dawood in conversation
    with Alfredo Cramerotti

    Lost Identities
    Cristina Cattaneo (Labanof) with
    Prefetto Vittorio Piscitelli
    (Commissario Straordinario per le Persone Scomparse)

    Waves and Patterns in a Climate Change Perspective
    Angela Pomaro (CNR – ISMAR)

  • 12 May 2017

  • 12 noon
    Human Impacts in Total Lack of Awareness:
    Our Pervasive Modification of Submarine ‘Seascapes’

    Fabio Trincardi (CNR – ISMAR)

    Mental Health and Trauma:
    MSF Experience with Asylum Seekers in Sicily

    Silvia Mancini (MSF Medici Senza Frontiere)

    The Law of the Land vs the Law of the Sea at the Border of Maritime Ethics
    Giacomo Orsini (Institut d’Etudes Européennes, Université Libre de Bruxelles)

    No Way Out. Notes on the Philosophical Implications of the Concept of Anthropocene
    Franco “Bifo” Berardi in conversation with Sandro Carniel

  • 13 May 2017

  • 12 noon
    The Extraordinary Power of Marine Microbes
    Gian Marco Luna (CNR – ISMAR)

    A History of Algae and Autarchy
    Simona Armeli and Alessandro Ceregato (CNR – ISMAR)

    Emotionally on the Move:
    Three Lifetimes, Three Homes, Three Emotions in Migrants’ Everyday Lives

    Paolo Boccagni (University of Trento)

    Who Rules the Waves:
    Sinking Islands that Oil Loves

    Margot Gibbs (Freelance Investigative Journalist and Researcher)

  • 14 May 2017

  • 12 noon
    Nothing New, Everything New Under The Sun
    Davide Tagliapietra (CNR – ISMAR)

    Orange Stigmata and Traumatising Discourses
    Renos Papadopoulos (Centre for Trauma, Asylum and Refugees, University of Essex)

    The Footprints You Don’t See
    Francesco Falcieri (CNR – ISMAR)

  • 19 May–25 August 2017

  • The Canonica host a programme of free film screenings every Friday evening at 7pm.
    (In partnership with MUBI)

    19 May
    The Sacrifice
    Andrei Tarkovsky, 1986*

    26 May
    Fire at Sea
    Gianfranco Rosi, 2016

    2 June
    Lars von Trier, 2011*

    9 June
    Brillante Mendoza, 2015

    16 June
    La Jetée + Junkopia
    Chris Marker 1962 and 1981

    23 June
    Les Hommes de la Baleine
    Mario Ruspoli, 1956

    30 June
    Lost Persons Area
    Caroline Strubbe, 2009

    7 July
    Motus Maeva
    Maureen Fazendeiro, 2014

    14 July
    Logical Revolts
    Louis Henderson, 2012

    21 July
    Motus Maeva
    Maureen Fazendeiro, 2014

    28 July
    Lars von Trier, 2011*

    4 August
    Mémoires d’un Juif Tropical
    Joseph Morder, 1986

    11 August
    Brillante Mendoza, 2015

    18 August
    La Jetée + Junkopia
    Chris Marker 1962 and 1981

    25 August
    Lost Persons Area
    Caroline Strubbe, 2009

    *screening starts at 6.30pm

Institutional Partners

Supporting Partners

Touring Partners

Plymouth Arts Centre
A Tale of A Tub
Bluecoat Liverpool


artist & director

Shezad Dawood

art direction & design

OK-RM, London

project management & content editor

Camilla Palestra

project management & development

Laura McFarlane

partnerships & vr development

Miranda Sharp

production manager

Laurie Storey

special thanks

patrons circle

The Ekard Collection
Theodore & Maria Fatsis
Sejal Firodia, The White Canvas, Pune, India
The Roden Foundation
Pippa Hornby
Donors who wish to remain anonymous



Art Direction & Design: OK-RM, London

Web Development: No Plans