OrtaWater - Bottle Rack
Materials: Painted steel bottle rack, 156 glass water bottles, life buoy
Dimensions: 190 x 90cm
Exhibition history: 2013 Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK ; 2012 9th Biennale of Shanghai, China; 2011 Biennale Kijkdun Den Haag, Holland
Courtesy: Courtesy of the Artists
Originally co-commissioned by Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa for the 51st Venice Biennale and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Rotterdam (2005-2006) the body of work OrtaWater focuses on the general scarcity of water and issues surrounding the privatization and corporate control effecting access to clean water. Starting from a rigorous analysis of this crucial resource through visual and textual research and collaborative workshops with engineers, Lucy + Jorge Orta sketch poetic artefacts, sculptures, large-scale installations and public artworks that evoke the cycle of gathering, purifying and distributing water.
One angle of their research visualises low-cost water purification devices enabling filthy water to be pumped and filtered directly from local sources. Waters that have been purified and distrubuted include the Venice's Canal Grande, the Emmersingel in Rotterdam (2005) the Hang Pu River in Shanghai (2012), and the Canal de l'Orcq in Paris (2014). Fully functioning water purification devices are incorporated into the sculptures and linked by a network of pipes, vistors to the exhibitions can simply turn on the taps integrated into each sculpture, take a drink of the clean water, or purchase an OrtaWater bottled edition to take home.
The Bottle Rack revisits Marcel Duchamp's iconic Bottlerack (1914–1964), one of the most famous ready-made works by the artist. Lucy + Jorge Orta modify Duchamp's original intention, which elevated a banal found object to the status of an artwork, to that of a functional one: the artists present a number of glass bottles with the inscriptions OrtaWater Venice and OrtaWater Rotterdam, which serves as recipients for water purified in the two cities, during the artists' exhibitions in 2005 and 2006. The life-saver at the base of the bottle rack reminds of emergency situation, the access to drinking water around the world.