Activities/Waste Water Fountain at Emscher Kunst 2016


04 Jun - 18 Sep Public Art

Waste Water Fountain at Emscher Kunst 2016
Photo: Roman Mensing,

SUPERFLEX presents the new work Waste Water Fountain as part of Emscherkunst 2016. Emscherkunst is a triennial taking place for the third time between the cities of Holzwickede, Dortmund, Castrop-Rauxel, Recklinghausen and Herne. The 50 km long art trail deals with the conversion of the Emscher River as well as the urban and industrial transformation of landscape in the Ruhr area.

The Emscher River, once a small and lively river, was during the industrialisation turned into a open canal for waste water, an open gut of the region.

As part of a 'Re-naturalisation Project' Emscher is turned into an imagined version of what it originally was and the waste water put into underground pipes. Step by step, the Emscher River and its tributaries will be transformed and improved ecologically.

With Waste Water Fountain SUPERFLEX asks if there is not an important element being lost in the sanitisation of the industrial version of the Emscher River. It might just be that this smelly and potentially health hazardous river teachers us something about the fundamentals of human civilisation - an element that gets lots in the process of 're-naturalisation'.

SUPERFLEX chose to celebrate the fact that an open waste water canal flows through a wealthy part of Western Europe and is not hidden in pipes underground. By placing a four meter high fountain in the middle of the Emscher River, SUPERFLEX celebrates the river as social gut in the landscape where we all meet on equal terms. It points to the commonality of our waste and the fact that we are all subject to a universal process of corruption. In the night the fountain lights up and during the 100 days of Emcherkunst the waste of high and low flows collectively through the fountain.

Waste Water Fountain was designed in close collaboration with KWY
Special thank you to Combé Anlagenbau GmbH and Mema Metallbau GmbH



The exhibition Emscherkunst is presenting contemporary art in city and nature for the third time in summer 2016. The Emscherkunst 2016’s about 50km long Art Trail stretches between the cities of Holzwickede, Dortmund, Castrop-Rauxel, Recklinghausen and Herne.

The Emscherkunst accompanies the development of a natural riverscape in the heart of the Ruhr area as a triennial. In a generational project, the open waste water canal Emscher is being converted to a close-to-nature river since the 1990s.

The artworks of the Emscherkunst 2016 deal with the conversion of the river Emscher as well as with the urban and industrial transformation and the change of landscape in the Ruhr area. The exhibition – hosted by Emschergenossenschaft, Urbane Künste Ruhr and Regionalverband Ruhr – has been taking place every three years since the Cultural Capital Year RUHR.2010 at the Emscher’s banks. In 2013, Emscherkunst delighted more than 255.000 visitors.

The Art Trail of Emscherkunst 2016 is about 50 km long and leads from Holzwickede through Dortmund to Castrop-Rauxel, Recklinghausen and Herne. All in all seven exhibition areas along the trail and an exciting program of events offer a unique art experience during the summer: in addition to the Emscher’s source in Holzwickede, the Dortmunder lake Phoenix See, and the urban space around the Dortmunder U, the exhibition also has the coking plant Hansa, the flood retention basin, the waterway bridge of Emscher and Rhine-Herne-Canal near Castrop-Rauxel and the Museum Strom und Leben with the Stadthafen Recklinghausen for venues.

In one of the biggest renaturation projects worldwide, the Emscher conversion, the about 80km long river Emscher is being converted from an open waste water canal to a close-to-nature river system: step by step, the river Emscher and her tributaries are being transformed and improved ecologically – the Emscher returns to the people as an alive river. Because of the change in landscape and urban spaces, formerly shunned areas become recreational spaces. For the Emscherkunst 2016, Emschergenossenschaft, Urbane Künste Ruhr and Regionalverband Ruhr are co-operating again, aiming to make the regions transformation to an attractive environment for living, residing and working, and to further strengthen the Ruhr areas international reputation as an attractive art metropolis.

Continuing in the Cultural Capital Year RUHR.2010’s spirit “Change through Culture – Culture through Change”, the Ministry for Family, Children, Youths, Culture, and Sport of the federal State Northrhine-Westphalia supports the Emscherkunst as one of the particularly sustainable cultural projects. In 2013, the Emscherkunst was recognized by the United Nations for her engagement in the communication of sustainable ideas and chosen as the „Beitrag zur UN-Dekade Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung“ (Tribute to the UN-Decade Education for Sustainable Developement).

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