Border water, 2022

Performance and video, publication, two installations for Kunstenfestival Watou, an art fair in a small Belgium village near France.

The Heidebeek, a small stream near Watou, forms the natural border between France and Belgium. Half of the water in this stream is Belgian, half on the other side is pure French. In theory, this distinction is logic itself, but when tested in practice, the same theory sometimes suffers shipwreck. The ban on irrigation a few years ago resulted here in Watou in a wonderful example of bureaucratic poetry. On the French side, the ban did not apply, so the Belgian farmers solved this problem with simple common sense. They placed their sprinkler system on the land of their French neighbour, from there to water their own land.

This gave me direct inspiration to set up a performance at the Heidebeek. A Belgian and French farmer worked together in this. The Belgian farmer placed his pumping and spraying installation on French territory, and vice versa. Then they sprayed the water across the stream, on their own land. Where the two rays touched, an arc was created, across the border.

 

The national border is an attempt by man to cut nature into pieces. With this work I try to expose to which strange situations this can occasionally lead. Nevertheless, there is also beauty, humor and poetry in this attempt by humanity to bend an archetypal nature symbol to the rules.

In the exhibition in the festival house, where the video registration of the performance is played continuously, I tried zooming in further on the point where water and human stories meet. I put this research in a publication.

For example, in addition to a water tap with a mixture of Belgian and French spring water, there is a water cooler with water that has been sanctified 'au bain-marie' by 12 bottles of holy water, from places all over the world. From a bottle consecrated by Pope Francis himself, to water plucked from the Ganges.

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