Water – More or Less
Exhibition at The Lab Gallery, Dublin, 2021
Water is essential to life but are we paying attention to the changing conditions which now threaten it?
Water – More or Less comprises six installation works each addressing an aspect of water stress: flooding, drought, desalination, industrial contamination, seasonal shortages and the unappealing realities of water treatment.
With world population predicted to reach 9.7 billion by mid-century, demands on water may surpass available supply. Earth’s water is finite, it is unevenly distributed and unequally shared. Radioactive contamination from fracking is reducing water reserves; climate change is bringing extremes of flooding and drought and nature’s water cycle is under pressure – yet we remain unperturbed about water.
When Water Becomes Explosive draws attention to processes of fossil fuel extraction where water at high pressure is used to explode rock deep in the earth. The artwork’s nine-squared structure is appropriated from an American ball game called ‘9 Square in the Air’. Vertical and horizontal tubes reference extractive drilling and the artwork highlights the dominance of the oil industry, especially in America. Oil is prized while water is rendered toxic; but might the value of these substances reverse over time?
Water Table presents seven water tanks with levels in each ranging from full at one end to empty at the other. The piece addresses fluctuations in rainfall experienced across the globe. An accompanying soundwork by composer Rhona Clarke generates aural images; heavy rainfall reduces to a trickle, followed by evocations of dry, parched, waterless places.
Cut Off is an installation of taps with knotted plexiglass flows. This work alludes to the precarious condition of domestic water supply in Ireland. We are now experiencing longer summer droughts, our infrastructure is outdated and our population is increasing – domestic water is under pressure.
Other works in the exhibition deal with flooding and water treatment, with recycled wastewater a future possibility in Ireland. In the upper gallery a research piece on desalination is combined with a small artwork in the form of a silver bullet – its capsule contains desalinated water from the Irish Sea.
Water– More or Less, commissioned by The Lab Gallery, Dublin 2021, was curated by Sheena Barrett.