December 8, 2020

Classroom: Recasting Water Worlds

Art & Education

Carolina Caycedo, A Gente Rio.

Dilip da Cunha, The Invention of Rivers.

Macarena Gómez-Barris, Artistic Undercurrents in the War Against the Earth.

Ursula Biemann, Deep Weather.

Joyeeta Gupta, Sharing Our Water.

Statement by Vandana Shiva.

Camp Pueblo singers, Standing Rock.

Astrida Neimanis, How to Become a Body of Water (Lessons in Hydrofeminism).

Recasting Water Worlds
Curated by Margarida Mendes

The pounding and roaring of the drums at the Dakota campsite still echo long after the camp’s disassembly.

How can we mobilize forms of aquatic re-enchantment, hydropolitics, and transnational advocacy for our water worlds so that we trigger modes of communal resilience and solidarity through cohabitation in the hydrocommons? What models of anti-proprietary water management can lead us to reengineer earthly futures? In times of planetary turmoil and rising temperatures, the need for watery coalitions to tackle the necropolitics beneath the uneven distribution of resources and the invention of scarcity loops is more pressing than ever. Can we tend to the vortical lines of hydropressure and heal the planetary chi?

Travelling through the interscalar imaginaries of aquatic flux and river literacy, one can see how hydropolitical decisions produce glocal frictions: the creation of virtual water markets, the distribution of toxicity through flowage rights, the drafting of coastal recuperation projects, and the planning of future infrastructure. From Colombia and Brazil’s mega-dams, to Bangladesh’s pressured floodplains, Canada’s expansive extractive petro-geographies, India’s increasingly severe monsoons, and the United States’s Dakota Access Pipeline plan, one can identify the chain of causalities that interlinks transnational trade agreements and meteorological events and precipitates the imbalance of planetary flux.

The hydrocommons has long been governed from a partitioned point of view, one that reaffirms forms of boundary-making, reinscribes subaltern hierarchies in the Global South, and reinstates the ontological division between land and sea. While hydrotrauma seems to be subjacent to our configuration of a planetary future, the mediation of the hydrocommons has been tactically successful thanks to indigenous water pedagogies and localized forms of hydric governance, which we may recover with the promise of hydrologic reengineering.

Across the world, gestures and resilient communities have risen against the extractive regimes of water distribution to propose integrated regenerative programs that depart from an agroecological view on reforestation. Ecofeminist movements and indigenous leadership are at the forefront of these battles, reminding us that technofixes can emerge from very simple decisions in integrated hydraulic planning and that these might strongly reverberate in the design of our own communities and legal systems. The Water Is Life movement and other water rights activists have long challenged how the holding capacity of human-built infrastructure can better safeguard resource distribution, opening this debate through an intersectional perspective. This crucial ecocritical move proposes a reinterpretation of hydrological systems through an interscalar perspective that deconstructs a host of political issues: the scope of juridical reasoning and reproductive rights, the space of intercultural exchange, the project of the nation-state. [read more on Classroom]

Featuring Dilip da Cunha, Carolina Caycedo, Macarena Gómez-Barris, Ursula Biemann, Joyeeta Gupta, Vandana Shiva, Camp Pueblo singers, and Astrida Neimanis.

View the full series on Classroom.

Classroom is a series of video programs curated by educators, artists, and writers. Each program assembles films, interviews, lectures, panel discussions, and documentaries from a variety of sources to engage with themes relevant to contemporary art and cultural production.

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