Revealing the Hydrocene: Reflections on Watery Research

Bronwyn Bailey-Charteris


This reflective paper shares considerations of curatorial research of art and water during the current climate crises as part of both contemporary art and Blue Humanities fields. This paper shares water-based methods utilised to develop the Hydrocene, the water-based curatorial theory I have named and defined as an act of curatorial planetary caretaking. In my doctoral thesis, Ingesting the Hydrocene, I argue that water, this most vital of materials, is the central figure of the climate crisis and that a zeitgeist of groundbreaking artists cultivate critical and collaborative methods of relating with water from which we must learn. The Hydrocene as a curatorial theory reveals hitherto unexamined curatorial perspectives on the interrelation of art and water in acts of planetary climate care. The act of naming and defining this artistic tide as the Hydrocene, is a curatorial act of caretaking returning to the epistemological origins of the curator as caretaker. The flow-on effect of the art of the Hydrocene is the potential for more radical ways of relating to water ethically.

Sharing the Hydrocene and the complexities of a sustained dedication to learning from and with water in the field of art, this paper aims to illuminate the way water offers intellectual, emotional, physical and metaphorical sustenance to myself and the artists I work with. In return for this wealth of knowledge from water, I aim to recognize waters own agency, power and adaptability, and to enter into principled collaborations with it.

Słowa kluczowe: hydrocene, curating, curatorial theory, art, climate crisis, water, blue humanities, thinking with water, hydrofeminism

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