OrtaWater - Zillie Fluvial Intervention Unit
Materials: Austrian Zillie boat, painted steel, glass, water bottles, taps, tubbing
Dimensions: 700 x 120 x 180cm
Exhibition history: 2012 9th Shanghai Biennale, China; 2009 Royal DSM, Holland; 2008 World Expo Zaragoza, Spain
Courtesy: Courtesy of the Artists
Originally co-commissioned by Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa for the 51st Venice Biennale and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Rotterdam (2005-2006) the body of work OrtaWater focuses on the general scarcity of water and issues surrounding the privatization and corporate control effecting access to clean water. Starting from a rigorous analysis of this crucial resource through visual and textual research and collaborative workshops with engineers, Lucy + Jorge Orta sketch poetic artefacts, sculptures, large-scale installations and public artworks that evoke the cycle of gathering, purifying and distributing water.
One angle of their research visualises low-cost water purification devices enabling filthy water to be pumped and filtered directly from local sources. Waters that have been purified and distrubuted include the Venice's Canal Grande, the Emmersingel in Rotterdam (2005) the Hang Pu River in Shanghai (2012), and the Canal de l'Orcq in Paris (2014). Fully functioning water purification devices are incorporated into the sculptures and linked by a network of pipes, visitors to the exhibitions can simply turn on the taps integrated into each sculpture, take a drink of the clean water, or purchase an OrtaWater bottled edition to take home.
The Zillie Fluvial Unit is an immense floating water-bar that displays hundreds of commercial water bottles from around the world. This work raises questions surrounding the privatization and corporate control that affects universal access to clean water.