An Installation to Immerse and Reconnect

Installation view. “To Ripple with Water” at The Border Project Space, 2021. Image courtesy of the artist

In unstable and changing times, haunted by a pandemic and conflicts unfolding worldwide, the installation by artist Bel Falleiros creates an introspective space that allows us to pause and reflect on how we relate to ourselves and the environment. Presented at The Border Project Space and curated by Jamie Martinez, “To Ripple with Water” is an invitation to be present, to disconnect from the frantic times we live in, and reconnect to our bodies and to the earth, in a quietly performative experience.

By combining ceramics, sound, and natural elements, the gallery has been transformed into a transcendent space in which our senses are activated. A layer of chipped tree covers the whole floor and, at each step, a soft sound and sense of freshness take the forest inside. A large ceramic sculpture occupies the center of the room and is surrounded by a circular curtain made of small ceramic spheres arranged in lines that go from floor to ceiling, taking us to walk around this space. Composed by two reversed conic shapes-like an hourglass—the top part of the sculpture is filled with water, reminding us of the relevance of this element, celebrated here as the title of the show indicates. Bringing the space together is a mantric song recorded mostly in visits to a water stream near the artist’s home in Upstate New York. The sound of her voice naturally meets the movement of water, rhythmically connecting body and landscape. Visiting the show, one perceives how all elements were carefully brought together to create a whole new space. The installation embraces us as if we were, in these moments, immersed in water.

Water and the earth are both crucial to the work and carry symbolic meaning in the show as well as in the artist’s practice. Bel Falleiros’ work investigates connections between land, history, memory, and identity. Guided by ancestral understandings of the world, the artist looks at shared stories across territories and how different cultures have established a harmonious coexistence with the natural and built environments, expanding a perspective on issues such as environmental degradation, the memory of places, and notions of belonging. Earth is a recurrent element in her work and appears as a major unifier in performances, installations, and drawings with sacred forms such as symbolic knolls, ‘navels’, and sites of connection to the land and the cosmos. Considering water healing and cleansing capacities for many cultures and its representation as “potentiality of existence,” symbol of death and rebirth ––as pointed out by Mircea Eliade––, the show invite us not only to celebrate these natural elements and what they represent but to involve ourselves fully with them.

The work is not to be observed, but experienced, and it affects us. As we walk, stand still, listen, and get in tune with the sounds and smells, we are reminded that we are agents here and in the artist’s considerations. Not by chance, the installation departs from the human body as Falleiros questions: “How do we understand the relationship between us and the landscape? Up until which point in space do our bodies resonate in the world?” All the pieces and the design of the space were based on the artist’s measurements, celebrating the female body and its dialogue with the landscape. The height of the main sculpture matches her center of gravity, while the ceramic spheres fit the palm of her hand. Distributed in lines, the almost 500 beads go from floor to a height that looks like an arm’s reach as if expanding the gallery––figuratively, unifying the underworld and the cosmos. This element not only supports the structure of this symbolic space but together with the lullaby sound, they give a sense of guidance in the whole experience and take our bodies to move with the show.

At a time of emotional distress, “To Ripple with Water” provides a moment to reconnect to ourselves and the symbolic landscape around us in a more gentle, harmonious, and ultimately vibrant way. We are taken to pay attention, to make ourselves present, and to connect to what pulses inside us. As we experience this warm, yellowish space, a sense of the dawn of a new day carries us over with the hope of new beginnings.

“To Ripple with Water” at The Border Project Space – 56 Bogart St #122, Brooklyn, NY, Saturdays from 2-6 pm or by appointment – through June 12th, 2021.

Iara Pimenta is an independent curator and writer interested in connections between art and architecture. Her projects investigate relationships between places, history, and culture, and reflect on perspectives that question collective memories and imaginaries. Iara has studied Architecture at the University of São Paulo and holds a master’s degree in Critical and Curatorial Practices from Columbia University GSAPP. With years of experience in elaborating and planning exhibitions and public programs, Iara has worked in art organizations in São Paulo and New York.