Radical Intention: Water Co-op Bar for Marfa Dialogues St. Louis

“Entire ecosystems are altered based on our everyday tap water usage.” Jane Tsong

I moved to the New Mexico high desert in 2006, after growing up in the Midwest, and it was there that I became acutely aware of water as a finite resource. Reminders of water scarcity and conservation were commonplace in Albuquerque–from the city’s mandated water usage laws, the brief weeks of rainy weather during the summer monsoon season, and the larger discussions about the sustainability of Albuquerque’s tenuous water supply. Water issues and other environmental concerns are explored often in the work of artists in the Southwest, but the questions they raise are not limited to one region.

The Marfa Dialogues in St. Louis (organized by The Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Ballroom Marfa, and the Public Concern Foundation) kicked-off this week and, through myriad events and projects, examines environmental issues, artistic practice, and public engagement, all with an interdisciplinary emphasis. Made expressly for the Marfa Dialogues, the Water Co-op Bar is a mobile, bicycle-powered water station meant to start a conversation about this key, life-giving resource.

Created and presented by Radical Intention and BJ Vogt as part of their residency at The Luminary, the bar offers water in exchange for an anonymous donation. Participants may make any amount of contribution, and are asked to write down the thought process behind their valuation of water. In an effort to raise awareness of Saint Louis specific water issues, proceeds will be donated to the Watershed Cairns, a project marking critical waterscape points in the local landscape with glass cairns, organized by the artists Joshua Rowan and Libby Reuter.

Probably the most interesting aspect of the Water Co-op Bar is its participatory nature. Encouraging thought and response, the project furthers dialogue about water’s relationship to climate change, human rights, and, on a more personal level, it coaxes us to think about the effects of our own water use on the world around us.

The Water Co-op Bar will be in business on Saturday, August 2, at The Luminary from 3:00pm to 6:00pm, and Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. Additional information about the Watershed Cairns project will be presented at the conclusion of the project.

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