One Percent Water exhibition at Z33 Art Centre

One Percent Water is an exhibition curated by Ilse Crawford and Jane Withers that explores the social and environmental impact of water.


The exhibition, currently on show at the Z33 Art Centre in Hasselt, Belgium, takes its title from the percentage of water on earth that is drinkable.


The exhibition features work from artists and designers including Brandon Ballangée, Lucy Orta (top image), Fulgaro, Ideo and Doshi Levien (above).


Above: reHOUSE/BATH by Fulgaro and TJAW (see our previous story)

The public are encouraged to send samples of fresh water to the exhibition's Water Archive. Details can be found on the One Percent Water website.


Above: Deformed Amphibian DFA 19 'Io' by Brandon Ballangée

One Percent Water will continue at the Z33 Art Centre until 28 September.


Above: Flow by Amy Jenkins

The following is from One Percent Water:


Although 70% of the planet’s surface is water, 1% is the amount of freshwater that is readily available to us. Factors such as the world’s rapidly increasing population and increasing consumption, climate change and pollution mean that even this limited and unevenly distributed resource is under threat, and water - one of our basic needs - has become a political issue and a challenge for our future.


Above: The State of Water by Karlssonwilker

It goes without saying that water is the stuff of life; it feeds earth’s ecosystem, flows through our cities, our buildings and our bodies. It is essential to our existence and a portal to our dreams.


Above: Aquaduct by Ideo (see our previous story)

And yet - largely through the way we use and abuse this precious resource - we face a water crisis and many of the ways we use water today are no longer appropriate to our future.


Above: Mobile Intervention Unit by Lucy Orta

1% WATER aims to be a catalyst for change. It explores ideas that can help us reconnect physically and psychologically to water and highlights the experimental thinking that will help shape a sustainable future.


Above and below: Water archive at Z33. Photo by Kristof Vrancken

Section 1- Water Archive
How do we treat this precious resource? The Archive is a ‘laboratory’ of water samples provoking questions about the character of natural waters and raising awareness of man-made issues such as pollution. It reveals how water is far from being the odourless, colourless, meaningless stuff that we perceive it as today.


It is a dynamic living element that has different characters depending on where it is from and, if it is abused, quite simply dies. Here is water from rivers, lakes, groundwater, rain water, spring water, bottled water, religious water, toxic water, sewage, industrial water, water from fridges or a water bed, even tap water. Samples are collected and documented via


Above: The State of Water by Karlssonwilker

Section 2 - AbUse
The first step towards creating a new water consciousness is awareness of water today. More than a third of the world is short of water and the situation is likely to get worse. The works of artists Brandon Ballangée, Edward Burtynsky, Lucy Orta and Phillip Ross, and the graphics of Karlssonwilker make us think about how we use and abuse water today and the problems we face in the immediate future.


Above: Malamp by Brandon Ballangée

The concept of the water footprint - the total water used for the production of the goods and services we consume - is still fairly new but awareness of individual as well as collective responsibility is increasing. AbUse is deliberately ‘dry’, to emphasise how we have made water invisible and turned it into a commodity.


Above: Junior Return by Philip Ross

Section 3 - Sacred Waters

Not surprisingly given our dependence on water, water has always been accorded a metaphysical and spiritual dimension; a dual nature as a life-giving substance, a religious and spiritual force and a well spring of the creative imagination.


Above: Ebb by Amy Jenkins

Sacred Waters explores water in relation to our psyche and the senses through the mythology and rituals around water. Historically water was protected and revered as the source of life. With industrialization it has been drained of meaning.


Above: Stamping the Water by Song Dong

Works by artists Song Dong, Michaela Nettell, Elina Brotherus Amy Jenkins and Michael Cross address the cultural and spiritual values associated with water in different cultures and eras and we argue that in order to survive we need to revalue water and how we treat it.


Above: Tasting waters

Water Wunderkammer
The Water ‘Wunderkammer’ brings together objects associated with water rituals and ceremonies from different cultures and eras. Historically water was valued and protected as a vital communal resource and revered as the source of life.


Above: Water Wunderkammer

This has generated an extraordinary material culture reflecting the spiritual and mythological values and beliefs associated with water and the relationship between nature’s rhythms and man’s needs.


Here historic examples are juxtaposed with contemporary objects that show how designers are beginning to be inspired to make a more resonant object culture today.


Section 4- Reconnect Workshop
Reconnect highlights the first shoots of experimental thinking that is beginning to shape a new water consciousness and point the way to a more sustainable future.


It looks at how the problems of water explored in AbUse are challenging us to find new ways with water but also how designers are absorbing the sense of cultural meaning and values explored in Sacred Waters to give a new sense of wonder as well as care and respect to the water environment. The installation is staged as an inventor’s workshop.