aspect-ratio 10x9 Hydromedia Wasserwerk

Hydromedia Wasserwerk (© Hydromedia)

18.07.24 Opening of the Exhibition at Städtische Galerie Karlsruhe:

16:00 Soft-Opening 19:00 Introduction

19.07.24 Workshops at HfG Karlsruhe & outside Registration online here or via mail to

10:00 The Pinhole (Darkroom, HfG 2nd floor) - with Arja Hop & Peter Svenson 11:30 Living Water: An Imaginative Journey (main entrance HfG) - with Jiajia Qi 13:00 How to free a river from its margins (river Alb) - with Luiz Zanotello 15:00 Amphibious Lines (Blauer Salon, HfG ground floor) - with Alina Schmuch


About Hydromedia

Hydromedia is an artistic research program aimed at developing creative strategies to explore sustainable water management. In the course of two years this project invited 13 international artists to engage in the creation of artistic tools that captivate and educate a broad audience about local climate issues, particularly those related to water. After successful events at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and HKU in Utrecht, the last iteration of Hydromedia was hosted by HfG Karlsruhe. The resulting exhibition will open at Staedtische Galerie on July 18 at 4pm (Soft-Opening) and officially introduced at 7pm.

The impact of climate crisis, often represented in images of natural disasters and scientific data, often leave the public overwhelmed and passive. Hydromedia seeks to change this by creating collaborative, nature-integrated approaches that suggest a balanced human-nature relationship.

Karlsruhe’s history in the paper, printing and photography industry is closely linked to local water management. But even in the Black Forest, a region known for its bathing culture and abundant mineral water springs, water shortages and the condition of the rivers and ecological imbalance are worsening. In Karlsruhe’s Upper Rhine region, five artists focussed on local (ground)water and the sustainable use of it. Raising awareness of these increasingly critical conditions and only slowly adapting ways of dealing with them is an essential prerequisite for collective action. The public kick-off event in Karlsruhe took place on the 3rd of April 2024 and brought together a wide range of experts and members of the Karlsruhe community and beyond to discuss water-related challenges and perspectives, fostering a collaborative approach to environmental stewardship. We thank Esther Ruelfs, Nico Goldscheider, Christophe Gentil, Julia Ihls, Helin Ulas, Mareike Roeder, Su Yu Hsin, Thomas Frank and Alexandra Navratil for sharing their knowledge and practices.

A final group exhibition of all 13 Hydromedia artists will open at Technische Sammlung Dresden, on the 25th of November 2024.

Curation & Production: Vanessa Bosch, Susanne Kriemann, Matthias Bruhn Graphic Design: Bruno Jacoby & Johanna Schaefer Funded by EU Creative Europe and the University of Arts and Design Karlsruhe Supported by Staedtische Galerie Karlsruhe, ZKM, Ornamenta Lust and Karlsruhe Unesco City of Media Arts Thanks to the team of SGK, Stefanie Patruno and Sophie Jürgens-Tatje, Martin Mangold, Laura Haak and Lorenz Stein

About the contributors:

Jiajia Qi – I Have Asked Many People About You Jiajia creates experiential site-specific installations that incorporate interaction, architecture, and sculptural elements through the exploration and production of time, space, and site. She is interested in turning familiar surroundings into something unfamiliar by precisely measuring, calculating, and placing a given spatial setting. Her installations blur the lines between artificial and natural, interior and exterior, inviting viewers to question what their surroundings offer up for observation and what they actually observe. Her work “I Have Asked Many People About You” explores the concept of interconnectedness through the lens of water. Recognizing that over 60% of the human body is composed of water, the project delves into how water connects us to other species and worlds, emphasizing its fluid, transformative nature. Qi uses water as a metaphor for fluidity, movement, and connection, encouraging a perception of life that transcends fixed boundaries and linear narratives. The project investigates the intersection of water treatment and natural water patterns, particularly focusing on calcium carbonate’s role in regulating pH and alkalinity. By examining the use of calcium carbonate—found in common materials like limestone and eggshells—the work highlights its significance in daily life and water treatment. Qi incorporates recycled calcium carbonate from a regional water treatment company to emphasize the close relationship between industrial processes and everyday life.

Alina Schmuch – Bathroom Studies Taking up photography and film, Alina Schmuch (*1987, Munster DE) explores the intersection of visual media and reality through artists’ books and video installations. Her latest research-based projects focus on water infrastructures. The video essay “Amphibious Lines” for example revolves around flood management against the backdrop of rising sea levels and a worsening climate crisis. Footage of dike inspections, climate models and simulation games are confronted with that of synchronized swimmers. In “Bathroom Studies” (2022 – ongoing) she explores the bath as a space where technology and the body intersect, examining the relationships between public and intimate spheres, as well as visibility and invisibility. She parallels the hidden aspects of digital infrastructure, such as server rooms and fiber optic cables, with the often unseen sewage systems. Schmuch highlights how the toilet acts as a technological interface connecting the body’s internal plumbing to the city’s infrastructure. The first part of the series, “The Visit,” uses swimming inspection robots to explore sew- age pipes and follows a performer interacting with a bathtub-bed in a hotel room, drawing parallels between the robot’s and the performer’s explorations. The second part, “Undesigning the Bath,” delves into the thermal baths of the Upper Rhine, combining footage of care and maintenance with scientific perspectives. It explores the relationship between constructed and natural bodies of water, examining how water as a medium carries information influenced by geological and ecological factors. The title references Leonard Koren’s philosophy of the bath as an escape from technology.

Luiz Zanotello – A metric below distance
Luiz Zanotello’s (*1986, Brazil) work is marked by a poetic inquiry into material ecologies of techno-imagination. Departing from pluriversal perspectives of experience, his practice often unfolds as transmedia installations, texts and performances that inquire into the paradoxical nature of language, matter and time. By reappropriating tools and intersecting methods from the fields of art, science, and technology, he explores new constellations of the poetic-technical image and its critical contingencies. Based in Berlin (DE), he is currently a PhD Candidate in Artistic Research at the University of the Arts Bremen (DE) in cotutelle with the PhDArts program (Academy of Creative and Performing Arts and Royal Academy of Art, NL) funded by a scholarship from the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes. Luiz Zanotello’s work “A metric below distance” investigates the interplay between the technical and poetic representations of the Rhine River, focusing on the contrasting approaches of 19th-century German engineer Johann Gottfried Tulla and poet Adelheid von Stolterfoth. Tulla’s engineering efforts aimed to straighten the Rhine for navigability and flood control, while Stolterfoth’s poetry captured the river’s natural contours through romantic verse. Zanotello’s project juxtaposes these two perspectives, exploring the shared dream of idealizing the river through both technical plans and poetic imagery. By examining Stolterfoth’s poem “Abend am Rhein” and Tulla’s plans, Zanotello seeks to free the river and the poem from their imposed structures. The work responds to contemporary environmental changes, such as rising temperatures and increased rainfall, challenging the rigidity of traditional poetic forms like iambic pentameter.

Arja Hop & Peter Svenson – Biochromatic Studies in a Rhine Floodplain Artist duo Arja Hop (1968, Hierden NL) and Peter Svenson (1956, Palmerston North NZ) have been working since 2015 on analogue photographic research projects in which they aim to give a voice to nature and, in particular, the plant world. Since 2015, Arja Hop and Peter Svenson have been working on “Rhine Ecologies,” a series of linked projects exploring the relationship between the natural environment and human interaction through the lens of plant life along the Rhine River. This river, a historical and economic lifeline of Europe, has transformed over time from a wide, swampy area to a nearly straight line due to human interventions, and now back to a more organic shape with the creation of floodplains that serve as ecological buffers. Their project is located in the Kastenwört forest along the Rhine near Karlsruhe, focusing on the use of natural plant dyes, or Florachromes, to create a biochromatic map of the area. By examining color samples from plant species like Acer pseudoplatanus (Sycamore Maple) and Quercus robur (English Oak), they explore how environmental conditions, particularly subterranean water systems, influence these colors. This meticulous process involves collecting plant material, extracting dyes, and organizing the results into a chromatic map that reflects soil and water conditions.

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