Art Hub Copenhagen is proud and excited to host the transdisciplinary international summit Life With Water on 11–12 June 2019

Life needs water. It is that simple. Without water life would never have emerged on Earth. Today, billions of years later water continues to constitute the most fundamental premise for life on this planet, but the connection between life and water has also evolved and poses a vast series of new complex questions for humans. Social, cultural, political, ethical questions. Questions about how we build, how we consume, how we engineer, how we influence our water eco-systems and eventually how we survive. To try and answer these questions is a pressing need and a significant challenge. To accommodate the complexity of the questions we need to involve a multitude of professional disciplines in working towards a common goal: To come up with sustainable, inventive and inspiring visions for our future life with water.

Life With Water is a platform to think about our future lives with water and will bring together anthropologists, artists, scientists and entrepreneurs. This first meeting will be a testing ground for collaboration in an open and collective spirit on this most pressing topic.

What distinguishes Life With Water from most water-related initiatives is the inclusion of artists and the arts perspective. We are optimistic that art can play an important role in dealing with future crisis through communication, imagery and speculation by being a host for complex discussions.

Presentation by Andrea Ballestero and Veronica Strang on June 11, 18–20h

Andrea Ballestero: A Future History of Water: bodies, boundaries, and lists

How are people crafting future histories? How does water re-make our words and categories? I focus on hyperbole and incendiary rhetoric among Costa Rican congress representatives to analyze early 21st century political water struggles. I think carefully about how new and old watery imaginaries intertwine, creating the need for categories that go beyond any melancholia over 20th century political vocabularies without jettisoning the political potential of rights.

Veronica Strang: Future Life with Water: a vision of more convivial human-environmental relations

Human societies have moved from worshipping Nature deities, including water beings, to exerting exploitative dominion over the non-human world. This lecture explores ideas from earlier societies and indigenous communities. Can the tenets of more convivial (and less anthropocentric) modes of environmental engagement be incorporated into current debates about ‘rights for nature’?

Because of very limited seating restrictions attendance to the keynotes is unfortunately closed.


Astrid Oberborbeck Andersen (Anthropologist / DK)

PhD in anthropology from University of Copenhagen (2014) with a dissertation on water politics and urban ecologies in Peru. Assistant professor in Techno-Anthropology at Aalborg University. Research interests evolve around Human-environment relations – specifically water (Peru) and living resources (Greenland);  Climatic changes and Anthropocene landscapes – how to retool anthropology (methods and theories) to engage with changes over time; Technology, infrastructure, and knowledge practices – the boundaries of ‘technical’ and ‘political’ perspectives on the world and its problems, developing methods for studying not yet existing environments; Postcolonialism – how to construct relations across differences, without erasure, aware of how coloniality shapes world positions.

Ken Arnold (Medical Museion / DK + Wellcome Trust / UK)

Since June 2016, Ken Arnold has been Director of Medical Museion and Professor at Copenhagen University. He also continues as Creative Director at Wellcome, overseeing international cultural projects there. He arrived at Wellcome in 1992, where he spearheaded a number of multidisciplinary cultural initiatives culminating in 2007 with the establishment of Wellcome Collection, in which he directed the programmes for a decade. He regularly writes and lectures on museums and on contemporary intersections between the arts and sciences. His book Cabinets for the Curious (Ashgate, 2006) explored what we can learn from looking back at England’s earliest museums. He is currently researching a book about the increasingly significant role played by these enduringly curious institutions.

Andrea Ballestero (Anthropologist / US)

Andrea Ballestero is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rice University (USA), she also directs The Ethnography Studio. She received her PhD in Anthropology from UC-Irvine, was originally trained in law in Costa Rica, and holds a Masters in Natural Resource Policy from the University of Michigan. Her research examines the “ethical within the technical” by looking at how experts and activists in Costa Rica and Brazil craft a future history of water. She is interested in spaces where the law, economics and techno-science are so fused that they appear as one another. She is the author of A Future History of Water (Duke University Press, 2019), is co-editing with Dr. Brit Ross Winthereik a new collection on practices of creative ethnographic analysis, and this year is co-chairing the annual Social Studies of Science conference in New Orleans. Her new research project looks at the re-invention of underground water worlds in Costa Rica.

Sylvie Breakevelt (Aquaporin / DK)

Team Leader Membrane Applications at Aquaporin A/S. Working with customers and universities to develop water solutions with Aquaporin membranes. M.Sc. Bioscience Engineering and 8 years of experience with Research & Development in sustainable water technology

Carson Chan (Architect, Writer / US)

Carson Chan is an architecture writer and curator based in Berlin and Princeton. He curated the 4th Marrakech Biennale in 2012 and served as executive curator of the Biennial of the Americas in Denver in 2013. He was guest curator for Dallas Aurora biennial 2015, and in 2017, he co-curated “Reaper: Sigfried Giedion, Richard Hamilton” at the Graphische Sammlung ETH Zürich, and edited the accompanying catalog. Chan’s writing appears regularly in publications including Domus, Log, Texte zur Kunst, PIN-UP, Avery Review, Frieze and 032c, where was formerly Editor-at-Large. In 2013, he co-convened a three-day conference at Yale University School of Architecture called, “Exhibiting Architecture: A Paradox?” A PhD candidate at Princeton, he studies the intersection between architecture, urbanism, ecology, and the nonhuman world, in particular the ocean. His dissertation focusses on postwar American public aquarium architecture.

Diakron (Artist collective / DK)

David Hilmer Rex is an artist currently pursuing a practice-based PhD titled ‘Artistic Practice and Systems Change’ at Aarhus University and The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. The focus of the PhD is the organizational development of Primer, a platform for artistic and organizational development, housed in the context of Aquaporin, a global water technology company. Rex is also a co-founder of Diakron, a studio for transdisciplinary research and practice that works across action research, artistic and curatorial practice, graphic design and business anthropology. Rex holds an MFA from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Visual Arts.

Ole Fryd (Landscape architect / DK)

Ole Fryd is an Associate Professor in Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Copenhagen. His research focuses on integrated urban water management, resilient cities and the role of urban green spaces in relation to climate change. This is related to his work on stormwater management and how the natural water cycle can be mimicked in urban areas by optimizing stormwater retention, infiltration and evapotranspiration through the design of ‘sponge cities’. Further, this is reflected in his research on the process of building resilience and creating integrated ‘ecosystems’ for sustainable urban development which I currently explore in the context of coastal cities. Ole Fryd has worked in different regions of the world including countries like Australia, China, Ethiopia, Greenland and Thailand, and will come straight from Tanzania to attend this Life with Water summit in Denmark.

Klara Hobza (Artist / DE)

Klara Hobza has received her art training at the Munich Academy of Visual Art (Diploma), Chelsea College of Art and Design, Columbia University (MFA) and Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School. Since 1998, she has been exhibiting internationally, as well as publishing, lecturing and organizing in the art field.

Jeremy Jackson (Scientist / US)

I received my PhD in geology from Yale University in 1971 and have held professorships and research positions in ecology and paleontology at the Johns Hopkins University, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in the Republic of Panama, and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography where I maintain an emeritus position. I am a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, have won numerous international prizes and awards, and published about 160 scientific papers and 11 books. I am working now on a book about the origins of tropical ecosystems, the ways they have been altered and disrupted by people, and their uncertain future. I also teach grade school and high school students about the environment near my home in rural coastal Maine.

Kirse Junge-Stevnsborg (Art 2030 / DK)

Works for ART 2030. ART 2030 has since 2016 worked with art as the key to achieve the UN Global Goals to inspire action for a healthy and sustainable future. Working with world renowned artists and partners, ART 2030 facilitates exciting art projects connected to the UN Global Goals – including public events, art experiences, multi-platform communication, and educational activities – for all to engage with the plan for people, planet and prosperity. ART 2030 is a non-profit organization uniting art with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Global Goals.

Aoife Kelleher (Brave Blue World)

Environmental scientist from Trinity College Dublin with a diverse background in field, laboratory and desk based research in the Water Sector and across the natural sciences. Aoife is passionate about Scientific Communications and has spent two years working in the Science Gallery in Dublin as a mediator, igniting creativity, discovery and innovation in a place where science and art collide. Aoife currently works as a Water Technology Research Analyst for BlueTech Research where she tracks innovation across a variety of themes in the water industry and collates data into strategic reports. Aoife is the lead researcher and assistant producer for the Brave Blue World Documentary which will be the first honest and hopeful documentary that will paint an optimistic picture of how humanity is adopting new technologies and innovations to re-think how we manage water.

Mark Nelson (Scientist / US)

Chairman of the Institute of Ecotechnics, works in closed ecological system research, restoration of damaged ecosystems, arid zone agriculture and sustainable wastewater recycling. Dr. Nelson was a member of the eight person “biospherian” crew for the first Biosphere 2 two year closure experiment, 1991-1993. He founded Wastewater Gardens International which has implemented biodiverse constructed wetlands in 14 countries. Mark’s education: Dartmouth College (B.A.), University of Arizona (M.S.) and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering Sciences from University of Florida. His most recent books are “Pushing Our Limits: Insights from Biosphere 2” and “The Wastewater Gardener: Preserving the Planet One Flush at a Time.”

Nina Nowak (Artist  DE/PL)

Nina Nowak is a Polan/German artist. She is currently based in Copenhagen. She studied at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and the Royal Institute of Fine Art in Stockholm. In her sculptures and installations Nina explores the borderland of inanimate and animate materials which are being transformed into body like objects. Her work has been shown in different places such as Horsens Kunstmuseum (DK), Galleri Susanne Ottesen, Copenhagen and museum kunstpalast in Düsseldorf, Germany.


Paul O’Callaghan (Brave Blue World)

Paul is a global expert on water innovation.  As founder and CEO of BlueTech Research, he provides strategic intelligence on the future of water technology innovation to the worlds largest companies, investors and research institutes.

Paul has guest lectured at Harvard Business School and Cambridge University, appeared on Discovery Channel features on water.  A scientist, he holds a Masters Degree in Water Resources and is currently mid-way through a PhD.

In his spare time Paul is a life long musician and enjoys playing piano and guitar, as well as sea kayaking and ocean swimming. He divides his time between Cork, Ireland and Vancouver, Canada, with his wife and three children.

He is Producer of an upcoming water documentary film, Brave Blue World.

Lisa Rave (Artist / DE)

As an artist Lisa Rave spent a month among scientists at Bosch at its newly established Campus of Future Research 2015 with support from Academy Schloss Solitude. She joined an international group of scientists on a research vessel to the Norwegian Sea as part of the Lofoten International Art Festival 2017 and traversed the South Pacific on an expedition with scientists and artists as part of TBA21 Academy’s The Current. This extraordinary year spent on and with the ocean and with various people who engage with it ended in an invitation to the Henningsvaer Charter, initiated by TBA21–Academy and Trondheim Academy of Fine Art, and to the “Oceans” strategic research area at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), which gathered artists and scientists for critical dialogue on the state and future of the ocean. Currently Rave advises student projects at the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg in a newly established program between the art academy and the Nuremberg Institute of Technology that explores methodologies of transdisciplinary work and discourse.

David Risley (Entrepreneur /UK)

David is the initiator and vision behind Funkis. Funkis will be a Sustainability and Circularity Research and Innovation Centre, in Copenhagen. This will include inter-disciplinary labs, workshops, and spaces for exhibitions, food and talks. Funkis will create a collaborative, pre-competitive space for innovation, between business and academia.

David ran David Risley Gallery, London/Copenhagen for 18 years. He founded Zoo Art Fair, London, and is a founding director of Chart Art Fair, Copenhagen.

Nigel Sansum (Kohler / US)

Experienced (25+ years) engineering innovator and technology developer in the area of water control and usage for primarily ablutionary applications. Employed within a large multinational privately owned US based company – Kohler Co.

One of our divisions is focused on the Kitchen and bath areas of the home and we have products that distribute water across many sectors including Domestic and Commercial installations.

Florian Schneider (Trondheim Art Academy / NO)

Florian Schneider is a filmmaker, writer, and curator. His work is investigating the border crossings between mainstream and independent media, art theory and open source technology, documentary practices and unconventional forms of curating. Educated as a documentary filmmaker and working for the German-French TV station “arte”, he has been engaged in ongoing processes of rethinking documentary practices across disciplines. Since 1993 he has pioneered a wide range of internet projects — most prominently Dictionary of War (2006-2010). In the context of Hybrid workspace at documenta X in 1997 he has initiated the campaign kein mensch ist illegal (no one is illegal) and contributes since then to its various follow-up projects while constantly reflecting critically on the relationships between art and activism, aesthetics and politics.

In 2006 he launched the artistic research project Imaginary property which operates at the intersections of a propertization of images and the seemingly imaginary character of property in the age of digital production and networked distribution. In 2014 he initiated the artistic research project “Divisions” funded by the Norwegian Artistic Research Programme.

Florian Schneider has exhibited and lectured worldwide. In August 2014 he has been appointed as Head of the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art in the Faculty of Architecture and Fine Art at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Since 2019 he is the chair of the COST action “European Forum for Advanced Practices”, funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Union.

Daniel Smith (Kohler / DE)

Daniel Smith has an MBA from Oakland University in Michigan/US, as well as a BS in Engineering from Michigan State University in Michigan/US.  His career has spanned everything from engineering to sales to marketing and product management in many industries. These include the automotive industry, communications/technology, decorative plumbing and water filtration. He has managed sales teams, product development teams, marketing teams, and worked or travelled in significant parts of Asia, North America, and Latin America. Currently he is working for Kohler, a large multi-national plumbing company.

Veronica Strang (Anthropologist / UK)

Environmental anthropologist and Director of Durham University’s Institute of Advanced Study. PhD in Anthropology (Oxford University, 1995). Ethnographic research focuses on human relationships with water in Australia, the UK and New Zealand. Awarded an Royal Anthropological Institute Fellowship in 2000, and in 2007 an international water prize by UNESCO. Key publications include: Uncommon Ground: cultural landscapes and environmental values (Berg 1997); The Meaning of Water (Berg 2004); Gardening the World: agency, identity and the ownership of water (Berghahn 2009); Ownership and Appropriation (Berg 2010); Water: nature and culture (Reaktion 2015). Currently writing about diverse societal trajectories in long-term human-environmental relationships.

SUPERFLEX (Artist collective / DK)

The artist group SUPERFLEX is undergoing a multi-year research which focuses on climate change and rising sea levels. Deep Sea Minding merges artistic and scientific research in an attempt to reach an alternative understanding of the marine species, which could ultimately affect the way we imagine and design our environments and objects. While generating relevant data and increasing awareness of rising sea levels, Deep Sea Minding proposes the creation of structures that could serve the needs and desires of both humans and marine creatures. From 2018 to 2020 SUPERFLEX will be Expedition Leaders of TBA21Academy’s three-year fellowship programme The Current.
In 2019 the group reshaped and flooded the former water reservoir, Cisternerne with the exhibition It is not the End of the World. SUPERFLEX creates a surreal, yet plausible, scenario where climate change and rising water levels have altered society drastically.

Jane Withers Studio (Design curator / UK)

Jane Withers is a curator, design consultant, and writer. Jane has worked with many organisations interested in raising awareness of environmental issues and inspiring change, creating critically acclaimed exhibitions, programmes and events at the V&A Museum and Royal Academy of Arts among many others internationally. Jane was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the University of Westminster for services to the environment and received Milan’s Design Prize for Experimentation (2018). Her London-based studio shapes design-led strategies, programmes, and exhibitions bringing innovative design thinking to address environmental, social, cultural and commercial challenges.

Pinar Yoldaz (Artist / TUR)

Pinar Yoldaz has a diverse educational background in chemistry, architecture (BArch), design (MA), computer science (MS), art & neuroscience (Ph.D.) Currently she is an assistant professor at UC San Diego with an emphasis on anthropocene and new media art. She experiments with aesthetic methods to spread awareness on ecological crises specifically within the cultural context of the United States although her work has found far greater response in Europe and Asia. Her notable projects are an Ecosystem of Excess (2013), Kitty AI (2016) and Genetically Modified Generation (ongoing.) She is a Guggenheim fellow and a MacDowell fellow.


Heidi Ballet (Curator / BE)

Heidi Ballet is an independent curator. In recent years she has worked on several projects that relate to oceans. In 2016 she curated the exhibition series ‘Our Ocean, Your Horizon’ at Jeu de Paume in Paris and CAPC Museum in Bordeaux. She co-curated the 2017 Lofoten International Art Festival (LIAF) and co-organized The Henningsvaer Charter, an event that brought together artists and scientists to reflect on the future of oceans. Currently she is curating an exhibition for the Tallinn Photomonth Biennial that looks at ecological responsibility and mythologies of belonging. She worked as a research curator at HKW Berlin from 2012 until 2015.

Peter Holme-Jensen (Aquaporin / DK)

CEO of Aquaporin A/S. Co-founder of three other companies within pharma and biotech. Chairman of the board of Aquaporin Asia Pte. Ltd. Deputy Chairman of the board of Aquapoten Co Ltd., China. Member of the board of Aquaporin Space Alliance ApS. Member of the Water Committee at The Confederation of Danish Industry

M.Sc. / Ph.D. Structural Protein Chemistry and extensive scientific and industrial network.

Jacob Lillemose (Curator / DK)

PhD in the history of art and technology from University of Copenhagen (2011). Exhibition curator at the Transmediale festival in Berlin (2012-2013). Founder and director of the exhibition space X AND BEYOND as part of a postdoc at the Copenhagen Center for Disaster Research (2014-2017). Since 2017 curator at the Medical Museum in Copenhagen working on the exhibition: Microcosm/Macrocosm. Lives of the Body Connected (2021). Forthcoming books: Architecture Zero and Strange Ecologies. Five Perspectives on a Deeply Fascinating and Fundamentally Alien Planet (in Danish). Artistic Content and Network Developer at Art Hub Copenhagen (2018-).