Exhibition in Brønshøj Water Tower

The failed practice of controlling nature

Brønshøj water tower is built by Danish architect Ib Lunding in 1928 to serve the growing population in the northwestern Copenhagen with water. Although the tower is now out of service, it represents a simple principle that is still being used all over the world: The elevation of a confined body of water high above the water pipes which distribute the water throughout the surrounding community, ensures that hydrostatic pressure, driven by gravity, makes the water run through the system. This principle is clearly legible in the architecture of the water tower: the water tank suspended above the visitor by a series of robust columns. The cylindrical space, ideal for storing a liquid, is clearly articulated in the functionalist architecture.
As a contrast to this ancient principle of controlling nature – from water as an unrestrained liquid to the available content in domestic water pipes – insights into the climatic future of our planet have forced us to revisit nature as something much less contained. Water has in recent discourse come to represent an uncontrollable force, a threat to our current inhabitation patterns. Water might not flood Brønshøj water tower in its elevated position high above sea-level, but for this iteration of our ongoing artistic research project “Islands”, we have found inspiration in the contrast between water as a contained body and as a larger ecology of inhabitation.
“Islands” is a manifest for giving form to new water-based inhabitation for a flooded future. A system of structures which simultaneously function as flood barriers, mooring platforms, and housing. Forms which are eaten up by internal structures, like a hermit crab or an abandoned cocoon. Morphologically the structures are alike to coral reefs and organisms of algae. Sounds and smells comes from the ocean. Their rhythms are in tune with the tide. They contain a seaweed harvesting plants, an obsolete oil rig, a birth clinic, and a crematorium at one and the same time.

As we see an urgent need to find models for how architecture and urban developments can grow organically and gradually, we engage directly in a process which does exactly that. Every piece of work passes between the two of us numerous times, as well as between digital and analogue tools and methods.

There is no end result, as such. Sometimes the final object becomes so perforated or fragmented that it disintegrates. Other times, it merges with other islands to become an archipelago, or becomes its own double by being placed in relationship to a large mirror.

It is our intention to push our methods and materials towards boundaries, where the unexpected, and sometimes undesirable, happens. Glitches in the transformation from digital to physical are accepted. We intentionally undermine the idea of the single author, the artist genius. We ‘destroy’ and erase parts of each other’s work, and allow for misinterpretations, faults, and mistakes. Just as we cannot always control water and keep it contained, our artistic research has failed practices as something productive built into it.

Collaboration with Jacob Sebastian Bang