Ayse Erkmen at Venice Art Biennale 2011: plan B

Turkish artist Ayşe Erkmen’s sculptural installation‘plan B’ draws on the ineluctable and complex relationship Venice has with water.

Her project transforms a 300 sq. meter room inside the arsenale into a complex water purification unit where machines perform as sculptures, encompassing the audience inside of the filtration process, which eventually provides clean, drinkable water back to the canal.

Drinking water is a subject that interests and affects people in many ways. The BERU 4000/800 plant consists of a pre-filtration with backflushing-enabled disc filters, ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis. It can supply about 4,000 litres of drinking water per hour.

Each component of the filtration unit has been separated out, humorously disseminating the machinery throughout the room then reconnecting the elements with extended pipes. Erkmen choreographs the elegant industrial forms to draw attention to the process of transformation, at the end of which, the purified water is returned to the canal: a futile, yet courageous gesture against the overwhelming scale of the canal and the ocean.

‘plan B’ abstractly conveys systems and processes that we are part of daily: blood circulating through the body, capital flowing through borders, the mechanisms of authority, the supply of natural resources. while proffering a poetic reference to the potentiality of change, the work is simultaneously a subtle, humorous critique of the euphoria for unsustainable short-lived solutions within the complex systems and structures that surround us.

‘plan B’ refers to the back up plan when the hypothetical‘plan A’ fails. This expression becomes a common feature of conversation in the build up to the venice biennale with the myriad of planning and production issues it presents, and the competitive temperament that its scale and style provokes.

Ayşe Erkmen was given a room with a window in the arsenale — her artwork entitled ‘planB’ makes use of it. From here the canal water enters the room in violet pipes and, after the cleaning process, returns into the canal through turquoise pipes

Ayşe Erkmen offers konstantin grcic a glass of purified water…

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