Water Rights

ACI Artist in Residence Basil Kincaid

International residency: Accra, Ghana

National residency: St.Louis, USA 

Water Rights 

January was another tremendous month in the ACI Artist-in-Residence Program. I spent a great deal of time elucidating my vision for the future of the reclamation movement as it expands after this residency. Through the proposal process for the Roman J. Witt residency through University of Michigan, I spent devoted time writing and conceptualizing the journey up to now- questioning what form the future of the movement will assume. Additionally, I completed a collaborative community instillation and photo shoot in Labadi entitled "On Clean Water" in which I used over 3,000 water sachets, purposed for packaging purified drinking water.

The instillation focused on the importance of clean water, the state of public sanitation, and water rights. It examined these topics through the use of water bags that were discarded, the waste of the water industry. It’s interesting to me to think about the fact that an industry around purified water or clean water even exists. I believe that clean drinking water should be compulsory to life- it is a human right. We all need water to survive yet some people are excluded from access to it. Here the water sachets litter the streets and it’s the evidence of an industry that is not sustainable in the sense that it generates a tremendous amount of waste which is terrible for the environment. It also ties in the energy crisis here, in that the lack of rainfall and water in the dams that generate electricity could trace its source to global climate change. There is interplay between technological advancement, and the waste generated from this “advancement”, which in many cases is dumped here in Ghana at sites like Agbogbloshie where electronic waste is burned on the ground with toxins tainting the ground water. This type of pollution along with other problems which make clean water scarce lead to this dependence on “pure water” found in these sachets.

In the work, a full scene was staged to show the all-encompassing importance of water to life. Everything in the scene was made from pure water bags sewn together by a team of seamstresses that I collaborated with to bring my vision into fruition. Members of the community helped me collect and clean the bags that were subsequently used in the work. Additionally, community members participated in modeling for the work to show how access to clean water affects everyone here. As we set up the instillation and shot the work, many people gathered around and a number of conversations were sparked by this public work. Just about everyone that passed through that area while the work was active stopped made comments and took pictures with their phones. The work existed there for a day then the instillation was disassembled that evening. This process of pop up art experiences to me is reflective of the nature of the cycle of use and refuse, how we experience a thing, a moment, then its remainder is discarded, we drink the water then throw away the bag, in this same way the art exists we partake in it then it is removed.

I will continue to work with the water bags and other found material to explore the interplay between water, technology, climate change and the energy crisis. I am also designing new works for the upcoming months that explore the nature of race and the active evidence of Willie Lynch syndrome.

Stay tuned. With Love.

- Basil