Dirty Water Initiative 2005
stainless steel, glass, silicone, plastic bottles, hardware
InSite 05 Art Practices in the PublicDomain San Diego
Tijuana Pedestrian Border Crossing, San Ysidro, Mexico
"Water is the blood that nourishes even before the milk can flow."
Ivan Illich, H2O and the Waters of Forgetfulness
SIMPARCH examined the striking disparity of water availability and purity in the city of Tijuana, an urban region sharply divided by the border between Mexico and the U.S. At once art intervention, public architecture, and independently initiated infrastructure, the Dirty Water Initiative brings to light the growing dilemma of water, which is polluted, scarce, bottled, privatized, and wasted. The public exhibit consisted of an array of solar stills, a contaminated supply of water, containers for clean water, pipe and fittings. The stills were connected in series, which created a mini water purification plant along the pedestrian walkway after entering Mexico from the U.S. This gesture of purifying water directly challenged the cliche, "don't drink the water". Using the simple concept of solar water distillation, the Dirty Water Initiative utilized the sun in heating contaminated water in glass-covered basins. This, now potable, water flowed down a channel where it collected in a series of common water vessels, making it a very slow and hermetic public fountain.
The stills were relocated after the exhibit as a small gesture to assist several families in water-challenged communities that survive on the "technophagic fringe" of development, where people fulfill basic needs without services and infrastructure that Americans expect.