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Words by Suy Lan Hopmann

Art and Design Residency “Water, Climate, Materiality” 2021

The Museum am Rothenbaum. Kulturen und Künste der Welt (MARKK) in Hamburg is awarding a three-month residency to a promising artist, (social) designer, architect and/or environmental activist. The aim of the residency is the development of a project engaging the topic of water-related climate change inspired by the materials, technologies and/or ecological knowledge in the museum’s collections. The residency is planned for September - November 2021 and is taking place in the context of the EU-Project TAKING CARE – Ethnographic and World Cultures Museums as Spaces of Care.

Thematic Focus

Water, in the form of floods, droughts, or as a scarce, contested resource, plays a central role in the unpredictability of the climate crisis. Rising sea levels threaten to swallow coastal areas and island nations, and heavy rains inundate cities and rivers. Elsewhere, droughts and water pollution lead to drinking water shortages, species extinctions, and agricultural crop failures. Across our planet, conflicts arise due to competing claims to water access, use, and management. The responsibility and water-related impacts of the climate crisis are unequally distributed and indigenous and formerly colonized people are disproportionately burdened by its acute consequences. At the same time, many people not yet directly affected lack the imagination to reconcile the catastrophic predictions for our planet with their current realities and everyday experiences. How can we empathise with a future precarity that we cannot see and attempt to grasp the world in its planetary dimension and complex interdependencies?

We are looking for an artistic or (social) design project that explores strategies at the intersection of knowing and imagining and engages the museum’s holdings as a storehouse of ecological knowledge in the face of water-related effects of climate change. The envisaged project posits more emotional, affective or associative engagements with the questions surrounding caring for the world and its most vulnerable inhabitants and works closely with source and/or diasporic communities and their perspectives on these holdings. It reframes the museum’s holdings as a starting point for imagining utopian futures and/or prompting collective action and care in the face of our planet’s precarity.

Possible themes include, but are not limited to:

• water distribution, collection and irrigation
• water pollution and purification
• riverine and marine wildlife, water ecologies and "multispecism”
• water as agent/ancestor (i.e. “Living Rivers” movement and the legal personhood of water bodies), explorations of the animate-inanimate
• water-related religious ceremonies, origin stories, narratives, and mythologies
• fisheries, overfishing and fishing technologies
• water as life-giving fluid
• waterscapes as basis for navigation, transportation, networks, trade, barter
• forms of construction on/in water
• contemporary water justice movements and neoliberalism
• water as model of design, waves as power generator, etc.
• freighter disasters/oil spills
• water settlements/harbours
• envisioning human-animal-enviroment relationships beyond human exceptionalism

Outcomes of the residency

• The artistic project will be presented in an accompanying exhibition planned at the museum under the heading “Designing Sustainable Futures”, which will open as part of the TAKING CARE Project in March 2022.
• Presentation of work in the form of an artist talk, conversation or performance
• The residency will be documented on the MARKK’s website and the TAKING CARE Project website

We offer

• Travel and subsistence: 4.000 €
• Artist honorarium including production/material costs 11.000 €
• Access to the museum’s holdings and archives
• A work place within the museum

Requirements for the application

• Concept and anticipated outcome in relation to thematic focus (max. 2 A4 pages)
• Cover letter, CV and portfolio with selected examples of previous practice
• Contact details

Interested artists are invited to send their applications as one file of max. 5 MB to the following address by July 30, 2021:
Please address all inquiries related to the application to Suy Lan Hopmann.

The residency is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union as part of the TAKING CARE Project.