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In the queue. Photo: Diagram - Anders Granberg / Lars Lengquist.
In the queue. Photo: Diagram - Anders Granberg / Lars Lengquist.
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Evian go home

Anders Granberg

22nd April 2014

Swedish artist duo Diagram escorts a glass of water back to its origin - from a convenience store in Stockholm back to a storm-drain in Evian les Bains, by Lake Geneva - and expose one of the many absurdities of modern life.

If a simple bottle that contains water also contains an unnecessary journey through almost all of northern Europe, what is hidden behind other things in our everyday lives?

In Sweden tap water is clean, inexpensive and available everywhere.

Interestingly, bottled water also sells well there. So much so that its environmental impacts seem forgotten.

International brands fill up their bottles and ship them long distances to a country with some of best tap water in the world.

In this group of suppliers, Evian is perhaps the most prominent with its 100 year long history. Evian water is famously drained from sources in and around the town of Evian les Bains on the shores of Lake Geneva.

In the film, Returning To Evian, we reverse the route of water across Europe: from Sweden back to France in an artistic attempt to highlight the absurdities of water transportation some 2,000 kilometers.

A theatre of the absurd, to reveal an absurdity

Firstly, the water is purchased at a convenience store in Stockholm and poured into a drinking glass. It is then carried, by us, by train from the Stockholm Central Station via Copenhagen, Basel and Lusanne all the way to Geneva, where it is finally taken by boat across Lake Geneva, back to where it came from.

Since the lunch of the project there have been many different reactions. Big question marks, enthusiastic cheers and some critical opinions. Many are fascinated and amused by the fact that someone would go throught with a project like this.

Others appreciate that we are pointing at one of the many thousand absurd processes in our modern society.

If a simple bottle that contains water also contains an unnecessary journey through almost all of northern Europe, what is hidden behind other things in our everyday lives?

For us as artists, it was important not to moralize about the behavior of others. Our main objective was  to point at an absurdity. The ambition is to provoke thoughts, make the viewer reflect: Why are we doing this?

And also how many other absurd processes are there in our society who become a part of my everyday life?

That water, that glass

One of the most common questions along the way was what we would have done if the water was spilled. For us it was an exercise in daring to put everything on one card, or all the water in one glass if you like.

Even before we had talked through the many aspects of traveling through Europe with a glass of water we decided that it was that water, and that glass. If it was spilled the project was over.

Authenticity was very important for the projects artistic quality. It had to be credible all the way through to work.

The actual implementation. Taking an idea that is basically simple, but difficult to accomplish, is an equally important part of the work as the intent.

The artistic experience

Just like a detailed painting or a painstakingly carved sculpture, the dedication strenghtens the impact of the artistic experience. It's the kind of project that can be viewed at a festival, on-line or you being told about it. It works on many levels.

The Evian project is part of a context that we plan to explore further. The modern citizens' lack of contact and undertanding with the things that surround us. The ignorance of how they are made and where they originate.

We are now working on a trilogy. Water, stone and wood will be treated with similar thoughts about beeing restored. More vain attempts to return the material to its natural environment will come inte future.

 


 

Diagram is a conceptual artist duo consisting of Anders Granberg and Lars Lengquist. Since 2000, this collaboration has resulted in a variety of expressions spanning several artistic disciplines such as drawings, film, public installations, performances, sculptures, photography, etc.

The artist duo Diagram is fascinated by the mundane turned upside down. Items with the wrong proportions, certainties inserted in not so obvious contexts and banalities taken to their extreme. Oddities so common that we no longer perceive them, much less reflect on them. 

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