Scheldt Estuary AiR in Antwerp: Hydromedia @ Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp

Scheldt Estuary AiR in Antwerp: Hydromedia @ Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp

The AiR explores new, experimental and easy-to-use artistic protocols to visualise and narrate the ecological breakdown. Deadline: February 24, 2023.

To address the climate crisis, we desperately need new methods for imagining the relationship between humans and nature. The existing scientific or documentary images are either too complicated or too overwhelming to create the necessary sense of urgency.

Sidestepping the purely documentary approach that prevails today in the photographic imagination of climate emergencies, Hydromedia: Seeing with Water would like to develop and promote new, experimental and easy-to-use artistic protocols to visualise and narrate the ecological breakdown.

They invite artists to develop innovative tools based on the alternative photographic model of direct tracing through physical contact. By sharing these newly developed visual and/or narrative protocols with the general public, Hydromedia will give them the artistic means to reimagine their relationship with nature.

Stressing a multidisciplinary approach, artists will work together with scientists and environmentalists. To develop these novel methods and tools, Hydromedia will organise three residencies. Each residency is dealing with a local topic concerning ecological water management during a one-month stay at one of the participating institutes in Antwerp, Utrecht, or Karlsruhe.

This is the open call for the first residency at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp which will take place in the month of April 2023. Four selected residents will work in the Scheldt Estuary, the ecological zone alongside the Scheldt, a living climate laboratory, and a rare phenomenon worldwide. This area, determined by the ebb and flow of the river, contains brackish to saline to freshwater habitats and forms a unique ecosystem of mudflats and salt marshes. The wetlands and polders have great value as purification and flooding areas, important in the face of rising sea levels, and if managed ecologically these marshes can also store huge amounts of CO2, thus providing important services in the fight against global warming.

These aquatic nature reserves along the banks of the Scheldt are home to endangered species ranging from waterbirds and eels to otters and are home to saltwater plants such as algae and seaweed that are seen as products of the ecological transition and a carbon-neutral future because they can store carbon from the atmosphere faster than trees. Specifically, the residency will explore three sites: Kruibeke Polder - the largest flood area in Flanders; the Drowned Land of Saeftinghe - the largest brackish water salt marsh in Europe; and Droogdokken - a zone from Noordkasteel to Sasdok along the Scheldt where a new mudflat and salt marsh area is being developed.

For each residency, four artists will be selected. Each of them will receive a fee of 2000€, a working budget of 2000€, as well as the coverage of their travels, accommodation, and subsistence during the residency period.

The call is open to visual artists currently living in Europe and/or who have the nationality of one of the countries that are part of the EU.

After the residency period, the selected artists will have time to further develop their work which will be shown in a local exhibition starting September 2023

The deadline to apply for the first residency at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp is set for February 24th, 2023.

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