– I Have Asked Many People About You 2023
Like several other festival artists, Jiajia Qi opts for water as the point of departure for her contribution. She wants to make us reflect on our relationship with water and how we can alter it now that climate change is making the access to fresh water more difficult.
Qi’s installation invites visitors to become part of it by walking through it. She plays with the notion that our body consists of more than 60% water and that water connects us with other species and other worlds.
Her project is inspired on a Chilean invention called the mist catcher. Due to the lack of rain the local population takes inspiration from plants to develop a method to catch the water droplets from mist in nets. Through this simple yet very ingenious system to source fresh water from the air, the Chileans create for themselves a source of water for agricultural purposes. The indigenous vegetation is not affected and even brewing beer is now possible.
The project consists of two parts. The first part is a specific, fixed installation and represents the water. Visitors are encouraged to make new associations with themselves and their environment. By combining different materials with each other (acrylic glass, nylon thread and liquid acrylic) and representing the whole in a very specific way, the water is rendered as transparent, volatile and light. The installation can also be seen as a watering hole: a point you walk to only to immediately leave it behind again, with neither a clear past nor a predictable future. When visitors enter the installation they experience a flowing moment that is as changing as it is impermanent. They become aware of a presence without knowing exactly what.
The second part of Qi’s contribution is located in the garden of the brewery and consists of three little mist or rather water catchers – as Watou isn’t exactly known for its mist. For this she set up a special collaboration with Nathalie Verbrugghe, a young doctorate student who researches mist catchers in Chile with the support of the National Fund for Scientific Research of ULB university. The water catchers she installs with Qi are part of her research. All summer long data are collected on a daily basis. The idea behind these water catchers is to make visitors even more concretely aware of the problem of water scarcity and possible solutions. As usual the water catchers are made of recycled everyday utensils and materials.
Jiajia Qi (1988) is a Chinese artist based in the Netherlands. Her work is just like dust in the room, which has no recognizable outline and is thought to be in the wrong place. She creates site-specific installations incorporating interactive settings, spatial structures, and sculptural elements.