Manifesta purposely strives to keep its distance from what are often seen as the dominant centres of artistic production, instead seeking fresh and fertile terrain for the mapping of a new cultural topography.

Roni Horn, US

“What do you know about water?”, Roni Horn asks. Answering her own question, she replies, “Only that it’s everywhere differently”. Precisely this unknowability has prompted her ongoing, transdisciplinary quest to come to terms with this shape-shifting substance, with this essential element that can give and sustain life, but also take it away.

In Saying Water, a spoken word performance, the artist reads from her writings on the psychological, philosophical and lyrical qualities of water. For Horn, talking about water is always talking about oneself.

She considers it both a backdrop and an agent, both a setting and a character, a transparent, reflective material that is wholly dependent on its neighbourhood and neighbours. Water, she points out, “can still be water and accommodate a lot of different presences”.

Saying Water was developed during a 2012 residency programme organised by Artangel in A Room for London, a riverboat installation on the roof of Queen Elizabeth Hall by the River Thames. The score is adapted from the artist’s text from the 1999 photographic installation Still Water (The River Thames, for Example) and the 2000 artist’s book Another Water (The River Thames, for Example).