What if water could talk?
Meet the Desert

On December 12th, the last day of COP28, the Entertainment Culture Pavilion presented a performance on water, “Meet the Desert”, organised by Meeting of Waters, an art-based NGO from Geneva, Switzerland. The session is an intimate, creative space that invited all to join a workshop that allows one to become “water” – explore and express the emotions hidden in our relationship with water, but also our experiences and mission working for climate change.

What if water could talk?

This question is the origin of Meeting of Waters (meetingofwaters.org), a “citizen-art” collective that “gives water a voice”. Meeting of Waters was initiated by Charlotte Qin, a Chinese-Canadian water artist who is also an advocate for water and hopes to reconcile the relationship between humans and nature through water, and mediate this relationship through art. Initially, the collective was composed of local young professionals from the fields of culture, science, humanitarianism and water policy and utilises artistic methodology to co-create a performance art piece that illustrates that water is more than just a resource but an embodied source of life interwoven into the culture and history of human civilisation. The methodologies of “reciprocal performance” provided by Meeting of Waters integrates storytelling, experimental group process, live performance, and aesthetic-sonic rendering to generate authentic affect and meaning for water in the audience.

Similar to a jazz performance, the storytellers and artists here who follow a predetermined guideline but improvised synchronization takes over as the reciprocal performance evolves.

“Meet the Desert” at COP28 featured Russian singer Yana Mann, Hong-Kong based violinist, climate activist Annabelle Ho; it was moderated by Elena Andreoni, founder of Cultural Insiders, cultural platform that covers the GCC countries. opening up a conversation on people’s first memories with water. Sharing our childhood memories about water from innocent observation of the world, including first interactions with natural water bodies, but also traces of climate change and ecological destruction that were already present back then. We shared mythologies we listen to growing up, Sumerian god of water and wisdom, Enki, and the Chinese dragon that connects heaven to the water on earth. It also brought us to concerns about Aquifers in the middle east, unregulated desalination and cloud seeding, of which unattainable usage and practices can bring severe droughts and unnatural climatic consequences to the local region and worldwide.

The programme was hosted by Culture and Entertainment Pavilion, the first official platform for artists, activists, and cultural workers in the Blue Zone of COP. This shows the relentless efforts of arts and culture workers in the climate space to be amplifying the voices of creatives from the periphery of policymaking and sustainability to a leading force to drive change.


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