OrtaWater - Fluvial Intervention Unit

Date: 2005
Ref: 1313
Materials: Canadian maple wood canoe, steel structure, water network, 2 light projectors, gloves, 4 buckets, 4 crates, 4 water drums, 2 water tanks, 4 flasks, various objects, copper pipes and taps, audio MP3, speakers, 24 OrtaWater bottles
Dimensions: 510 x 120 a 260cm
Catalogued: Lucy + Jorge Orta: Food Water Life, Princeton Architectural Press, NY, pp.94-95; Lucy + Jorge Orta Antarctica, p15 & 47, Electa Italy; Lucy + Jorge Pattern Book, pp88-89, Black Dog Publishing, UK
Exhibition history: 2005 Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Venezia; 2006 Gallery Continua Beijing, China; 2007-2008 Natural World Museum, tour; 2008 awarded the Green Leaf prize for sculpture with an environmental message by the United Nations Art for the Environment Program
Courtesy: Courtesy of the Artists

OrtaWater focuses on water scarcity and the complex issues surrounding the corporate control of access to clean water. The sculptures and installations Lucy + Jorge Orta create are both playful and provocative, incorporating fully functioning low-cost purification machinery, bottling stations and transportation devices that enable filthy water to be pumped and filtered directly from neighboring polluted water sources. The aim of the artists is to broaden of our understanding of water availability, the effects of pollution, and to demonstrate simple purification and distribution solutions.

Originally commissioned for the Venice Biennale at the Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation (2005), filthy water from the Grand Canal in Venice was pumped into the St Marks Square gallery where it was channeled through a network of pipes suspended from the sculptures, arriving into a filtration and purification device, where the resulting clean water was bottled in a glass bottle edition and distributed to the biennale visitors.

For the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam (2006), Dutch canal water was pumped throughout the historical museum galleries into a large filtration device installed inside a huge boat decked with numerous water objects. Visitors could simply turn on the taps integrated into the sculpture, and take a drink. After Italy and The Netherlands, the artists visited Beijing (2007) to research the distribution and consumption of water in rural communities and witness the changes that are occurring due to the massive industrial development, specifically in China – one of the countries with a worrying environmental pollution record. For their Shanghai Biennial commission (2012), the artists incorporated water utensils and objects used in popular Chinese culture into the OrtaWater Purification Factory.

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