The magic of water has historically been connected to particular sources and therefore a pilgrimage had to be made to benefit. Over time this explicit connection to place has largely been lost. Over hundreds of years, the water of the San Pellegrino Terme has been endowed with almost magical properties. This has made it a valuable commodity and as a consequence, there is an increasing ecological burden both locally and internationally. We were interested in how and why people attribute special properties to water and what kind of stories help this to occur.
We spent our time trying to understand the waters special properties through research of it’s chemical properties and through field studies, which would attempt to create a connection to place through physical emersion
As a consequence of these activities we are currently researching ways to take the magic from the source and replicate it’s power through the chemical and cultural transformation of our local water in the Blue Mountains, Australia.
Our residency apartment was at the top of an old building, looking out onto trees with mountains in the background. Each morning we would wake with the birds and to the sound of old ladies gossiping in the sun. Not long after the local fruit and vegetable truck would make its rounds, sounding it’s horn and we would run down to get some apricots or berries. Most days we would visit the nearby Salzano river, taking photos and playing with the rocks. We spent the nights researching the local ecology and the chemical properties of mineral water while the kids slept.
At the end of our residency we went to San Pellegrino where we returned some water that we had bought at our local supermarket in the Blue Mountains. An absurd gesture but perhaps no more crazy than shipping billions of bottles of water from Italy out into the word – often to places like the Blue Mountains, which have perfectly clean and healthy local water.
Sottochiesa is a tiny village in the Taleggio Valley north of Milano, with a population of 140 people. It is 13km from San Pellegrino Terme, which is the home of the San Pellegrino beverage company. The town has been historically famous for it’s water and was was visited by many including Leonardo da Vinchi who came to sample the town’s ‘miraculous’ water.
A year after our residency we held a lunch at our studio as part of the, Worldwide Studio and Apartment Biennale, which is an annual project based on the idea of using non art spaces to create an internationally networked series of events. The lunch was part social, part performative discussion about the project, part installation and part research. We made pizzoccheri, which is a buckwheat pasta dish from the Taleggio Valley.