Water Machine

Basma Bouzo, Noura Bouzo2016/2016

London Design Biennale

London Design Biennale
London, United Kingdom

Social transformations, shortages of natural resources like water, and new community dynamics have made water sustainability a symbol of the need for global collaboration: water is essential to our collective future. Water Machine is a reflective installation by Saudi Arabian curators Basma and Noura Bouzo and allows viewers to reflect on their direct relationship with water.
The evocative and interactive exhibition provides an opportunity for the audience to reflect on key ecological issues that are, in actual fact, global afflictions.
The installation raises questions that apply to all of us as global citizens: are we ready for actual change? Is it right to accept so much waste? Is it possible for people to change? And above all, can we still hope for a better tomorrow, a utopia? The curatorial practices of the Bouzo sister focus on presenting ideas, questions, and discussion points as a core component to the exhibiting mode where the collective audience dialogue is part of the display.
An ecological utopian society, according to Sir Thomas More’s 1516 book, Utopia, is a society in which people exist in harmony with nature, and it is precisely this idea that informs Water Machine. The world’s supply of natural water is at the core of this particular installation, but it speaks to all issues of sustainability and conservation.
Water Machine focuses on the idea of extravagant abundance in a relatable in a global context, despite the original manifestation of the idea being inspired by the region. The installation is a direct response to the current global reality; where across the world there is a simple acceptance of excess and associated waste as a given. The global excessive consumption of water, food, and other non-sustainable resources reveals a deep and mistaken assumption that there will always be an abundance of such items.
The current global reality is far from a ecologically utopian society. The Bouzo’s installation highlights this current social context along with sustainability and ecological issues. Understanding the issue holistically is paramount for exploring, developing, and implementing long lasting structural changes. The piece is interesting in spatial terms, too. There is the sound, and the look of the gum ball machine- inviting a multi-sensory experience.
There are increasing attempts, in line with global trends, to meet the needs of the population without compromising the health of the planet. This new approach has catapulted conversations around sustainability into the spotlight, and has drawn attention to the need for appropriate responses to local ecological challenges hand in hand with coordinated global efforts for large- scale change.
The ‘Water Machine’ installation uses visual communication to take the idea of the actual ‘accessibility’ of water to another level. The site-specific candy-machine structure is developed
to allow visitors to buy water stored in plastic capsules; bringing into focus the commodification of natural resources in a trivial and seemingly effortless manner. Tangible, tactile elements allow the audience to interact and explore. The water capsules, dispensed as from a gum ball dispenser, are also a subtle nod to wasteful packaging practices and are all part of the conversations that curators are forcing visitors to partake in.
The exhibition conceptually consists of two parts. It not only addresses the most essential element we take for granted; water and the consequences that come with losing that natural resource, but also highlights how easily we take for granted the accessibility of limited commodities like water. The curators focus on addresses the issue of sustainability with a focus on the surrounding complexity - rather than presenting an already established idea. Opening dialogue where we understand share a common concern with issues of sustainability in our world.
The two-fold installation is made in response to current circumstances, develops a symbolic visual language that address the global problem of natural water supply, and is designed to offer broad opportunities for the audience to actively engage. One of its persistent, fundamental ideals of an increasingly interconnected and codependent world has been an integrated view of the problem solving. Other works by the Bouzo sisters often focus on contemporary society; they reexamine and reimagine society’s narratives in an attempt to ensure that conversation isn’t stifled and exchanges are critical.
All life depends on water. It is vital that we all work together to protect this precious resource and ensure a sustainable water future. It is as critical that open dialogue is part of that future move to sustainability.


  • Title: Water Machine
  • Creator: Basma Bouzo, Noura Bouzo
  • Date: 2016/2016
  • Type: Installation
  • Rights: Ed Reeve

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