Until 4 December, Brussels' Bozar presents an exceptional expo on water. 'Faces of Water' is the result of moments of thought, consultation and action, interactions between scientists, business leaders and artists around current water challenges. It is based on the European Commission's S+T+ARTS programme, where Flanders completed two 'residencies'. VITO went through an entire process with artists Haseeb Ahmed and Anna Ridler where this theme was at the forefront. The different partners who each contributed their vision and the way the artists picked it up resulted in a number of artworks on the border between art, technology and science.

S+T+ARTS stands for science (science), technology (technology) and art (arts) and was launched from the belief that the critical and humanistic perspective of an artist can make an essential and positive contribution to a number of challenges that can never be solved by a single discipline. VITO committed to two residencies, themes. A first theme links our healthcare system to the presence of pharmaceuticals in water; a second explores water capitalism.

"Culture and art allow people to cross some borders more easily," says Dirk Halet (Vlakwa). "That way, they are able to see things from a different perspective, which is a good vehicle for change."

"For me, water is in a continuous cycle, which has a special meaning when you look at it in the context of pharmaceutical pollution," thinks artist Haseeb Ahmed. "Few people are aware of that, which makes this project a unique opportunity to make things clear."

water capitalism

"The basis of the theme of water capitalism was actually the observation that today we rely very heavily on market mechanisms to control water systems. At the same time, we realise that this is insufficient and that other values also come into play: moral, aesthetic and hedonic values," says Dirk Halet.

"In this issue, we have examined the value of water in all its aspects," says artist Anna Ridler. "What role does water have in society? Exactly what values does it stand for? When stock prices rise or fall, you can see it in the landscape: windmills are added, factories close or new companies are established. We have become used to the graphs that show the share price, but the environment says so much more... In my installation, I link the landscape to the share price."

"And that was just the fascinating thing," thinks Inge Genné (VITO). "You start with a fixed element and a lot of information and then you see which pieces of that information an artist absorbs and further processes. You find that Anna does different things with that than we do, from our own, scientific, background."

"The choice, also for us, to enter such an art project is precisely because we realise that translating a scientific content to a large audience is not easy. We had to search for a common language," concludes Johan Ceulemans (VITO).

Where and when?

'Faces of Water' is being held at Bozar (Brussels). The exhibition runs until 4 December. Other artists who collaborated in this project and also featured in the exhibition are Theresa Schubert and Joshua G. Stein.

Residency video water capitalism
Residency video pharmaceutical pollution

More about the artists:

Interview with Haseeb Ahmed
Interview with Anna Ridler

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