Water Moves Life
July 20, 2022 – Fall 2022
A Multi-site work by Nicholas Galanin and Merritt Johnson
On view outside at the Alaska State Museum, Anchorage Museum, and Cuddy Family Midtown Park in Anchorage.
Water Moves Life is a multi-site-specific work exploring the linked forces of a changing climate and rising inequality. Bronze forms replicating mass-produced plastic jugs paired with the sound of flowing water and police radio chatter braid together allusions to freedom, survival, containment, and control.
Plastic jugs are both mundane products of global capitalism and tools for survival amidst climate change. As containers for carrying life-sustaining clean water, they are often used by people in situations of extreme precarity: migrants making dangerous journeys as well as political refugees and victims of climate disasters. By casting such utilitarian objects in bronze, a material traditionally used to fabricate large-scale monuments, the artists create vessels that prompt viewers to consider the precariousness of life on Earth and the way compounding inequalities of today might affect future generations.
Layers of sound juxtaposing flowing water with man-made sounds of surveillance and control emphasize the ways humans have disconnected themselves from the laws of the natural world. They serve as a reminder that all life follows water: it flows freely and cannot be easily contained.
Water Moves Life is a project of the Anchorage Museum. The main installation at the Anchorage Museum is complemented by satellite locations at Cuddy Family Midtown Park in Anchorage, near Fish Creek, as well as at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau. The State Museum sits on the land of Aak’w Kwáan at the place known as Dzantik’i Héeni, or “precious water for the starry flounder,” as translated by Tlingit elder Dan Katzeek.
Collectively, Water Moves Life installations and programming highlight broad issues associated with water, including climate justice, the interconnection of different species with water, efforts to restore and revitalize water-based ecosystems, and Indigenous relationships with water.
This project is made possible, in part, with support from the Visionary Initiatives in Art (VIA) Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts.