Spoiled Waters Spilled

Spoiled Waters Spilled is an exhibition, performance and discussion programme exploring rivers, contamination and cross-border circulation. The environmental reality it addresses contrasts with the ‘postcard-dream’ image used by nations to promote themselves.

Spoiled Waters Spilled takes as its starting point the organic circulation of flowing substances such as water and air, which exceed states’ borders while being affected at the local level by human activity. Bringing together artists addressing issues related to water and toxicity in Marseilles and beyond, some of whom also draw on activism and protest, the project considers how industrial, agricultural and domestic pollutants disrupt the ‘postcard-dream’ image used by cities, revealing degraded rivers, soils, sediments and waters, where bodies of all kinds are contaminated. It also aims to explore the growing tension between the need for transnational responses to anthropogenic climate change and the enforcement by some nation states of ever stricter border policies, which serve to exclude ‘others’ and often further externalize ecological problems.

Marseilles, with its particular geography, port infrastructure and crowded beaches, has long had difficulties with water pollution. Its coastline was recently named among the most plastic-polluted in the Mediterranean. Sources of contamination include the port, the excess of cruise ships transiting through the city’s waters, and the presence of heavy industry. There are oil refineries and petrochemical plants, particularly at the Étang de Berre, as well the Gardanne alumina production plant, which discards toxic red sludge into the sea within the boundaries of the Calanques National Park. The river of Marseilles, l’Huveaune, which flows through the park of the Ballet National de Marseille, has also been severely polluted in recent decades.


The Learned Pig















Atlas de la France Toxique (France), Minia Biabiany (France), René Char (France), Marjolijn Dijkman & Toril Johannessen (Belgium / The Netherlands & Norway), Marianne Fahmy (Egypt), Valentina Karga (Germany/Greece), Jessika Khazrik for The Society of False Witnesses (Lebanon), Anouk Kruithof (The Netherlands), Daisy Lafarge (United Kingdom), Rikke Luther(Denmark), Lisa Robertson (Canada) and Elvia Teotski (France).

Spoiled Waters Spilled takes place at the Ballet National de Marseille within Manifesta 13 Les Parallèles du Sud from 10th September to 25th October 2, 2020. The programme has been curated by Inga Lāce and Clelia Cousonnet and there is more information available here.

The opening event on September 10 begins at 19.00 and includes a curators’ tour and an artist talk by Elvia Teotski. In addition, an iteration of artworks and a podcast of conversations with artists is taking place at the Ocean Archive by the TBA21 Academy.


Image credits (from top):
1. Marjolijn Dijkman & Toril Johannessen, Reclaiming Vision (still), 2018 © Marjolijn Dijkman & Toril Johannessen
2. Minia Biabiany, Spelling, 2016 © Minia Biabiany
3. Marjolijn Dijkman & Toril Johannessen, Reclaiming Vision (still), 2018 © Marjolijn Dijkman & Toril Johannessen
4. Marianne Fahmy, Magic Carpet Land (still), 2020 © Marianne Fahmy
5. Jessika Khazrik for The Society of False Witnesses, Preface To The Configuration of this Universe, 2020 © Jessika Khazrik for The Society of False Witnesses
6. Anouk Kruithof, Petrified Sensibilities 13, 2017. Courtesy de l’artiste et Galerie Valeria Cetraro
7. © Elvia Teotski


This is part of ROT, a section of The Learned Pig exploring multispecies creativity through modest tales of collaboration and coexistence amidst world-ending violence and disorder. ROT is conceived and edited by Julia Cavicchi.


The Learned Pig


The Learned Pig

Launched in November 2013, The Learned Pig is an online arts magazine with a love for plants and animals. Our thinking has grown out of our engagement with landscape aesthetics and environmental ethics and these days we try to bring together multiple perspectives on bodies and places, interspecies interactions, and alternative conceptions of that which has rather too frequently been defined as “nature” or “the animal”.