JAMES GEURTS
TOPOGRAPHY OF WATER


2014

Topography of Wateris a series of site and time-specific works on paper and Polaroid photographic works made at various water bodies around the world. This series of works was made at threshold sites, the meeting place of two bodies of water: Sydney Harbour/Pacific Ocean; St Lawrence River/ Saguenay River, Quebec, Lagoa de Obidos /Atlantic Ocean, Portugal, Halifax Harbour/Atlantic Ocean, Nova Scotia; Birrarung River /Port Phillip Bay, Victoria; Towamba River/ Twofold Bay, Eden; Tidal River/Bass Strait, Victoria; Upper Yarra Resevoir/Birrarung River, Victoria.

Drawing In, Drawing Out: Sydney Harbour/Pacific Ocean,was made on-site during the in and out going tides, drawing toward and away from the body consecutively, relating the five-hour tidal moment to breathing in and breathing out.This process is referred to as ‘psycho-topographical mapping’ – a practice associated with psychogeography and its exploration of place and perception. Frequently the works are developed across a number of media in response to a single site in what Geurts refers to as ‘expanded drawing practice’.He gains a sense of each place through extended periods of fieldwork, taking note of what the site reveals, hides and suggests over time.

Drawing : Psychogeographyworks involve modifying the developing process of large format Polaroid photography at each site. Geurts exposes the chemical layers of the film to extreme temperatures, humidity and salinity, whilst drawing out abstractions through his gestural intervention on the film’s surface. These gestures seek to align with the physical dynamics, atmosphere and psychological states suggested by the site. This process of combining drawing techniques to translate a sense of space and the movement of water bodies aims at an ‘expanded potentiality’ of experience that conveys both the shared and distinct features of the geographical locations in which he has worked around the globe.

In 2013 Geurts established an ongoingconceptual art project called the Embassy for Waterthat functions as a curatorial and critical umbrella for a water-based series of artworks and events. Embassy for Wateractivates the central role of water as a physical and imaginary presence in the interwovenwaterways throughout the world, with which the human water-body is a part. Through this spatial multiplicity, Embassy for Waterdraws together particular water flows as part of an inescapably global water body that defies national boundaries. In collaboration with artist and curator Julie Louise Bacon (UK/AU), he devised an iteration of the Embassy for Waterthat formed part of Leeuwarden’s successful bid to be named European Capital of Culture 2018. This will result in a year-long program of art events in the Dutch city and the surrounding area.
- James Geurts, 2014