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Levels of Livinig Waters

29.06.23 - 09.07.23

The water flows, as things sometimes flow when they go into flux, hide under the surface and then reappear as if nothing had happened. It rushes, it ripples, it permeates the Palace, can be tasted on the tongue, felt with the skin. Glass provides a view into the interior, where there is room for thoughts, hopes, dreams and fears. Similar to water enclosed by windows, which is released from the bottom by means of pumps, only to migrate back to its place of origin as a vertical gradient. The veil woven from fluid material is the formal equivalent of the surrounding panes, and like the Palace itself is open and closed.

Moving images flow on the water at night, one into the other, seemingly without context or connection. Lifeless bodies rest on the shore as if washed up, a newborn is doused with water, a toy tanker has run aground - "Everything great". Moments that have nothing in common - except water. It is the connecting something. People have always settled by rivers, by lakes, by the sea, although water can quickly change from a place of longing to a scenario of horror: It saves life on a thirsty tongue, it takes life in the change of waves. All being on earth springs from it; children are literally lifted out of the great pond. But nothing helps when currents pull below the surface, when man can no longer push himself off the bottom, loses himself in deepest darkness.

Cristiana Cott Negoescu has installed a waterfall in the Palace, flooding the eyes of the viewers. It is always the same mass of water that the pumps lift up in an endless loop and release back down through their openings. Repetition is a characteristic of the works of the Bucharest-born artist. After studying at the University of Lincoln, she moved to the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, graduating last year as a master student under Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster. Her work is mainly performative, but she also devotes herself to socio-political and spiritual issues in video and photography. In the first artist residency offered by Palace, Negoescu conducted artistic research with water and experimented with its forces: How does water behave when it flows through hands, wraps itself around bodies, changes from flowing to falling?

Nothing is a sharper weapon than water when it breaks through even diamonds under the greatest possible pressure. Strongly or not so strongly, the falling water can affect the surroundings, cool down the room, also change the surrounding wax figures. Scattered drops hang in the air, wetting the soft surfaces. Will the waxy body parts retain their form or will they do the same as the water, melt into abstract shapes, even silently peter out on the ground? The falling water releases energy, reflects the light prismatically. Friction electrifies the air. But water exerts power not only physically, but also on a spiritual level.

Hardly anything is as mythologically entwined as water when we speak of the well that promises eternal youth or fairy tales entwine around the water of life. Religiously charged, a newborn child becomes part of the faith with baptism, and the faithful are blessed with holy water. In Russia, ice holes in the shape of crosses are even sawn at the beginning of each year as believers try to wash away their sins in honour of the baptism of Jesus Christ. Across religious boundaries, water also serves to cleanse the body and mind, for example in the form of thermal springs or ice baths. Whether hot or cold, it magically attracts people, can transform places, as recently happened at Cologne's Ebertplatz (the non-place was to be walled up, sealed with concrete, but a fountain transformed the place, attracted families with children).

What seems to be an infinite supply is actually becoming scarce as the climate heats up. If only 0.3 % of the world's water supply is available for drinking, it will be further reduced by waste and pollution. If, in addition, there is no rain, drinking water supplies, agriculture and industry will quickly come under pressure. Already now, water shortages in countries with low precipitation regularly develop into water crises. So is everything really "super" or has the ship already run aground?

Different levels of the elixir of life become visible in the Palace by means of the waterfall, which often forms stair-like cascades in nature. When looking through the glass front, the viewers see themselves reflected in the veil fall, as it were. After all, we are flowing beings ourselves,

if we consist of 70 per cent living water.

Artist: Cristiana Cott Negoescu

Text: Julia Stellmann

Photo: Christian Ahlborn


The exhibition is supported by:

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