Loren Kronemyer and Mike Bianco: Brackish Rising

Finding solutions to the problems created by climate change is especially vital in a city like Perth, where the annual flow from rainfall into the city’s dams and catchments has fallen by 80% since the 1970s (according to a 2015 report by Australian body Climate Council, Thirsty Country: Climate Change And Drought In Australia).

The interdisciplinary project Brackish Rising by Loren Kronemyer and Mike Bianco engages with issues of salinity, water, desalination, and water sovereignty in Southwest Australia. Also presented as part of PIAF, Brackish Rising aims to call attention to the past, present, and future of water in Perth, including the role of engineered solutions like the Kwinana desalination plant; a facility which has provided over 20% of all potable water in the Perth metropolitan area for the past decade.

‘Ultimately, the aim is to respond to this drying reality, not only as a crisis happening in Perth, but around the world as well, and to engaging the public to imagine what the next 40 years – or even 400 or 4,000 years – may be like for water consumption both in the region and around the world,’ Bianco said.

‘As an artist, I’m interested in creating work which opens up new forms of understanding about the world and time we live in – not as propaganda, but as a moment of contemplation. If learning how to make a DIY water still, sampling different waters from the region, and learning how to cook with saline plants helps my audience care about water more, then great. Otherwise, I think my aim is to create an opportunity for our audience to sit with the reality of the impending global water crises – not as an abstraction, and not necessarily as an issue which can be solved through technology, but as a concrete reality which will quickly become a part of the fabric of our lives and culture.’

As part of Brackish Rising, Kronemyer and Bianco will be offering Perth's residents taste-tests of different samples of local water; a proactive means of engaging with abstract ideas simply but effectively.

'Water may be aggregated into central locations before being redistributed into the system, but the origins of that aggregated water differs quite a bit, as does the quality and scale of infrastructure which delivers it. I think tasting different waters, and understanding the extensive processes which they may go through in order to become a part of our bodies, is one of the more intimate ways to gain insight on how dependent we are on these systems, and how fragile they may be in a time of rapidly shifting social, economic, and environmental conditions,' Bianco said.

Richard Watts, excerpt from 'Art’s weapon against future water wars.' Arts Hub, 3 February 2017