The importance of water for all life on this planet is the starting point for the work of the American artist Basia Irland (Ft. Smith, Arkansas, 1946). In her pioneering work of the last three decades, Irland focuses on rivers and water separations, scarcity of water and climate change. Through her work, Irland hopes to reconnect people to their local waterways to encourage involvement, care, appreciation and responsibility.
Since 2007, Irland has been making so-called Ice Books: ephemeral, sculpted from ice, with ‘texts’ of seeds from local plant species. The books are set afloat in waterways and during melting the seeds contribute to the ecological recovery of the local riparian vegetation. The sculptures necessarily survive solely as a photograph.
As part of the exhibition at Museum Contemporary Art De Domijnen in Sittard in 2015, Irland produced a series of Ice Books that were set afloat in the Meuse near Born and in the Geleenbeek near Geleen. The three photos shown in Center Court (Level 1) document the ice books that Basia Irland produced and launched. These photos were acquired by the museum.
The works of Irland are in line with the current exhibition at De Domijnen, “De Hollandse Savanne”. This exhibition examines the role of water as a fundamental but often overlooked part of the infrastructure that supports the internet. ‘Server farms’, physical data centers where our digital data is stored, use large amounts of water for the air conditioning, which requires lots of scarce resources. Where water was previously a fundamental human right, it is increasingly used to support our digital self instead of our physical self. But what are the consequences, risks and alternatives of this development?
Exhibition “De Hollandse savanne” is open until April 1, 2018.