‘stories of water’ is a collective project presenting a series of interventions ranging from video works and performance art to installations and seminars that consider the topic of water using different approaches. Over its four chapters, ‘stories of water’ explores the multifaceted formal qualities of water, the complex symbiotic entanglements in which humans and water coexist, as well as the politics of water in our current globalized reality.

Collective exhibition
24.02 – 12.03 2023
@ OnCurating Project Space 
Zurich, CH

Features work by Border Forensics, Antoine Félix Bücher, María José Crespo, Zoya Laktionova, Johanna Locher, Ornella Ostapenko, and UNITED for Intercultural Action.

Throughout this third chapter, we are looking into the politics of water, borders, expropriation, and self-governance.

Collectively, the works presented investigate the geopolitical complexities and their respective impacts on our oceans, rivers, and lands. The term ‘floating bodies’ coined by architect, researcher, and urban designer Adrian Lahoud conceptualizes and ties together issues that touch upon both the ecological and the political. Lahoud describes floating bodies as being related to the polluting atmospheric particles which flow from North to South, as well as the human beings which migrate from South to North - often having to cross large bodies of water in order to do so. The notion of ‘floating bodies’ is what connects the ecological and political predicaments in places such as the Rio Grande, the US-Mexico border, the Baltic Sea, the Libyan coast, the Azov Sea coast in Eastern Ukraine, and Antarctica.

The issues of deterritorialization and borders touch upon also manifest themselves in different ways in the works of all the artists participating in this chapter. María José Crespos’ video shows how avisadores warn migrants attempting to cross the US Mexico Border and approaching US Border Patrol, using flickering mirrors and blinding lights, whilst Johanna Locher’s video questions the significance of these same borders, while she sews together the hem of the ocean and the sand grains of the Baltic coastline.

Forced displacement, as shown in Ornella Ostapenko’s work, is a geopolitical issue not only affecting human life; in fact, it is a multi-species crisis and necropolitical implication within our fragile ecologies. Zoya Laktionova’s film displays how armed conflicts that surround us can result in our disengagement with the ecologies of these areas, as seen in the case of the city Mariupol on the Eastern Ukrainian coast. As Edmond Locard, criminologist and a key figure in Forensic Sciences, formulated “Every contact leaves a trace”. Border Forensics’s project outlines to what extent the sea’s geopower has overtaken a form of killing— operating without state actors directly touching migrant bodies. The List presented by UNITED for Intercultural Action traces archives related to the death of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants who have lost their lives making the journey within and outside of the European Union. Antoine Félix Bücher’s work on rainwater implies the energy and movement of the living— a particular natural event that may cease to occur due to the escalating effects of the climate crisis.

Curated by Elif Carrier, Anastasiia Biletska, Rosela del Bosque, Marina Donina, Katerina Leontidou and Anna Sorokovaya.

︎︎︎For this third chapter, I worked/invited María José Crespo (from Tijuana, based in Rotterdam, NL) who created an intervention of different elements found in archives and site visits in Texas, US. The presented works for this Chapter derive from her exhibition project titled “Flaws in Negotiation with Non-Cohesive Sand” presented during a residency program at Artspace in San Antonio, TX. Her works reference the US - Mexico border and how it operates and adapts through time, space, and materialities. María José presents a mural collaging maps, treaties, photographs, documents, and artistic research strategies to create an alternative narrative of border history around the Río Grande/Bravo. The video “Avisos flickering across environments” displays how Avisadores communicated with mirrors flickering a blinding flashlight, notifying the whereabouts of the CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection). This work seeks to contrast the informal, local, and poetic gestures for communicating among Mexican communities whereas, on the US side of the border, the excessive surveillance embodies and establishes infrastructures along the territory.

María José Crespo completed her BA in Fine Art at the Universidad Autónoma de Baja California in Tijuana and her MA in Fine Art at Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam. Her main research investigates territory, language, and body by questioning how she inhabits certain boundaries as a woman. She is interested in studying remains and traces that administrative powers leave behind in unclear territories.