OrtaWater - Purification Factory Huang Pu river
Materials: Factory construction in reclaimed wood and glass, water purification system, water tanks, pipes, various objects, OrtaWater bottles
Dimensions: Installation length approx. 500 x 300 x 540cm
Exhibition history: 2015 Lakenhaal Museum Leiden, Holland; 2012 9th Shanghai Biennale, China
Courtesy: 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.
After Italy and The Netherlands, Orta visited China to research the distribution and consumption of water in rural communities and witness the changes that are occurring due to the massive industrial development, and 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. A towering 5-metre high construction made from bamboo and re-claimed wood, complete with a water purification machine was installed in the Power Art Museum. The 'factory' drew from Shanghai’s main water resource, the Huang Pu river, pumping polluted water into the bamboo towers from 20-metres below, to distribute purified water to thousands of visitors. When you drink the water, remember the spring. Chinese proverb
Water purification installations were previously commissioned for the Venice Biennale at the Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation (2005), and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Rotterdam (2006). Water from the Grand Canal in Venice was pumped into the St Marks Square gallery where it was channeled trough the sculptures, purified, bottled and distributed to visitors. In Rotterdam, filthy Dutch canal water was pumped through a labyrinth of pipes 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.