Article by Mary Alexander // Aug. 16, 2019
On display at Momentum in the Kunstquartier Bethanien in Kreuzberg is a small but striking exhibition entitled ‘Water(Proof),’ launched as part of Food Art Week 2019. FAW is a non-profit project created in 2015, whose mission is to promote positive change in our environment and society by asking how our cycles of food consumption and production are permanently harming the environment. Featuring international and local artists, the show promotes various artistic positions that reflect on and respond to the precarious state of our water. Through video, installation, performance, photography and design, the exhibition explores the vulnerability of our most vital natural resource. Whether addressing the topics of food consumption and production obliquely or directly, ‘Water(Proof)’ aims to raise awareness about the value of water and the deterioration of our planet from a global perspective.
On display upon entering the space is a collection of posters by artist and photographer Almagul Menlibayeva. Menlibayeva is responsible for this year’s FAW water campaign, which comprises a series of posters featuring artist, chef and FAW founder Tainá Guedes. Inspired by fashion photography, the images are a powerful statement on the precarious condition of our water. Addressing issues such as plastic pollution, climate change, pesticides, antibiotics and water drinkability, the posters challenge viewers directly about how our lifestyles are harming the planet. Commenting on the global issue of water scarcity, which raises serious challenges to the future of sustainable food production, one campaign poster reads: “In many regions of the world, food production is causing critical water shortages. Is your luxury worth this damage?”.
In Menlibayeva’s video ‘Transoxiana Dreams’ – a highlight from the exhibition—the artist continues to probe the topic of water scarcity by focusing on her native Kazakhstan. In the video, viewers are taken on a dream-like journey through the desertification of the Aral Sea. Impacted by decades of Soviet irrigation policies and forgotten by cultural and commercial interests, what was once a thriving fishing region is today completely barren. The video follows a fisherman’s search for the last remaining water sources and his daughter’s childlike perspective on the brutal environmental changes taking place. Combining documentary footage and surreal imagery, including four-legged women that resemble centaurs, the transfixing video is set in a desert landscape that appears almost apocalyptic but is in fact real.
Further highlights include a selection of light objects made from recycled plastic and water bottles by the Magpie Art Collective and the video performance ‘Salt Dinner’ by artists Nezaket Ekici and Shahar Marcus. Shot in Israel’s Dead Sea – another rapidly shrinking body of water – the work addresses geopolitical and environmental forces through an elaborate aquatic feast. In the video performance, a Muslim and a Jew share a lavish meal that is both a test of endurance and a commentary on the need for political and environmental stability in the region.
In conjunction with the exhibition at Momentum, FAW 2019 is occupying Steinplatz, a public space in Charlottenburg near the University for the Arts (UdK). On Saturday, August 17th, FAW2019 will be hosting a Summer Water Party at Steinplatz. This special event will include various art and music performances inspired by water, watercolor workshops with artist Ivona Pelajic, information booths from environmental organizations focused on water preservation and a panel discussion with experts. Sustainable food and drinks will be provided by food trucks in partnership with Markthalle Neun and Bite Club. For those interested in learning more about FAW2019 and making positive social-environmental changes, guided tours are taking place at Steinplatz every Tuesday in August from 2pm to 4pm or by appointment with FAW founder Tainá Guedes.