Inspiration Forum

Inspiration Forum Lab 2023/24: Bodies of Water

For centuries, bodies of water have served not only as the sources of our drinking water and livelihoods, but also as trade routes and supply chains for the modern capitalist economy. Water has been treated as a resource to be extracted, while at the same time it is imagined as a separate, remote entity capable of absorbing our waste and dissolving anthropogenic pollution. The system that has enabled the commodification of water and the violent exploitation of its various properties is the same one that has caused most of the painfully evident scarcity of freshwater and exacerbated inequalities in access to it. In a time of ecological urgency, a relational rethinking of water seems not only necessary but also necessarily political.

“We are all bodies of water! What we do to water, we do to everybody, including ourselves.” The words of cultural theorist Astrida Neimanis not only challenge us to reflect on our relationship with water, but are also a call to action. They suggest that by opening up to a different ethic of relation and care between humans and planetary waters, we can also find a new way of connecting to the rest of nature. How can water's ability to connect the human scale with all other scales of life guide us in finding solutions to urgent ecological issues? What might water teach us about solidarity with other species and each other? And what can we learn about our interdependence with water and moisture from the radical conditions such as those found in deserted areas on Earth or in space?