Vapour (clouds)
China recently announced it would create clouds on a massive scale to provide rain for an area three times the size of Spain. China may be taking weather modification to a new extreme, but it is a widespread phenomenon – from traditional rain ceremonies to the hail cannon, which is used in the Netherlands by farmers and festival organisations in an effort to master the weather. With ‘Airgloo’, an igloo made of air conditioners, Kokmeijer playfully demonstrated how attempts to control the climate in one place simultaneously affect other parts of the planet.

Solid (ice)
Kokmeijer juxtaposed the worldwide phenomenon of weather manipulation with the combined efforts of the world’s countries to protect one place against the impact of humans: Antarctica. She made a series of works about this continent, which does not belong to any nation and where visitors can’t leave any trace of their presence. Using washed-up glass collected during her travels to Antarctica, Kokmeijer depicted the paradox of attempting to safeguard one part of the world from global ecological changes.

Liquid (water)
In preparation for the exhibition, Kokmeijer travelled to the Marshall Islands to investigate an entirely different relationship to the natural environment. In this region, which is under threat from the rising sea level and has a long history of Western interference, she worked with grassroots organisations, canoe builders, and scientists. They readopt the traditional knowledge with which people of the Pacific have made the ocean their habitat, and revive this expertise as a tool to bring about a more sustainable future. Inspired by the technique of ‘wave navigation’, which is based on learning to feel and listen to the natural environment, Kokmeijer created new works, partly in collaboration with oceanographer Gerbrant van Vledder.

Taking the water cycle as its reference, Solid, Liquid, Vapour presented a powerful image of our planet as a closed system, whereby slight changes in one place can precipitate positive or negative effects elsewhere.

Esther Kokmeijer
Esther Kokmeijer’s (Brantgum, 1977) artistic practice primarily focuses on the relationship between humans and nature. Her work often arises during the travels she makes, where the journey itself is an integral part of the work. She also works as an expedition photographer on a ship that sails to the North Pole in the summer and the South Pole in the winter. The dialogue with biologists, oceanographers, and anthropologists has become increasingly important to her work.

read more

Project partners included architect Henrik Jan Haarink; Elmar C. Fuchs, programme manager at Wetsus Center of Sustainable Water Technology; oceanographer Gerbrant van Vledder; Alson Kelon of the Waan Aelõñ in Majel-programme, Marshall Islands; Dustin Langidrik of Okeanos, Marshall Islands; Stefan Grob of the Silent Hail Canon; Sence of Place, Holwerd; and Theater Rotterdam’s Club Imagine.

Solid, Liquid, Vapour was realised with the support of the Mondriaan Fund, CBK Rotterdam, Verbeke Foundation and Nederlandse Zouthandel.