Water policy and poetics

A conversation with Aurélien Gamboni, Jean-Pierre Greff and Daniel de Roulet

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Water was the theme of the Festival Histoire et Cité 2019, to which the artist and researcher Aurélien Gamboni responded with the collective exhibition Shifting Baselines at LiveInYourHead. The works, most of which were conceived after a long investigation conducted on a specific location, drew up a report of “rising water” as a metaphor for modernity pervading the most distant places and, more literally, an ecological disaster swallowing up the world.

Within the framework of Shifting Baselines, the writer Daniel de Roulet presented texts as well as models of lakes whose waters are or were shared between several countries. This geographical situation has forced the countries to come to an agreement on how a common property should be managed. De Roulet sees the beginning of a globality theory in this situation. His research on cross-border lakes forms the preliminaries of a future novel.

Jean-Pierre Greff’s research in art history has led him to focus on several French abstract post-war painters such as Jean Bazaine, who had an intimate connection with water and the poetics of water. Greff is also a reader of Gaston Bachelard, the author of a poetical philosophy essay about elementsentitled Water and Dreams, in which Edgar Allan Poe’s heavy waters meet Arthur Rimbaud’s fire drops: an image of blazing water that has now entered our reality through certain polluted waterways.


Exhibition view, Shifting Baselines, LiveInYourHead, 2019. ©HEAD-Raphaëlle Mueller


Pauline Julier, La disparition des Aïtus, 2014. Shifting Baselines, LiveInYourHead, 2019. ©HEAD-Raphaëlle Mueller


Charles Heller & Lorenzo Pezzani, Liquid Traces, 2014. Shifting Baselines, LiveInYourHead, 2019. ©HEAD-Raphaëlle Mueller


Mabe Bethônico, Endless showers and rivers of mud, 2019.Shifting Baselines, LiveInYourHead, 2019. ©HEAD-Raphaëlle Mueller