AQUAPHOBIA (2017) by Danish artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen is part of Anthropocene Campus Venice 2021, a one-week educational event around the theme of Water Politics in the Age of the Anthropocene.

Organized by Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, the Center for the Humanities and Social Change (Venice), and the Max Planck Partner Group The Water City in the framework of the Anthropocene Curriculum (AC), a long-term collaborative project initiated by Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin) and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (Berlin).

Using VR technology to connect inner psychological landscapes with exterior ecosystems, Aquaphobia uses de facto the ‘fear of water’ as an entry point to transform perceptions of our relationship to future water levels and climates.

Western thought usually looks at Environmental Studies from the point of view of the preservation of mankind and its artefacts, rather than from a perspective of resilience and change. In Aquaphobia it is rather an alien entity – a water microbe or virus – which takes over and guides the spectator through the five main stages that patients treated for fear of water usually go through. This state of mind is mixed with the psychological implications that derive from an imagined breakup story – the one between the landscape and its virtual visitor.

Faced from a point of view which is no longer only human, the issue of the ‘fear of water’ takes on new implications. Whose fear of water should it be? Turned this way, the question involves not only a more inclusive socio-cultural community – beyond the Western gaze – but also a wider ecosystem, where man is no longer the main actor.

description Aquaphobia (Narration), 2017

Text by Jakob Kudsk Steensen and narrated by artist Rindon Johnson

smart_display Click to watch: Opening Event

Opening event of the online platform and project Aquaphobia: Fear of Water

event October 12, 11:30 – 13:00

SCREENING & ARTIST TALK
[opening event, public, live-streamed]

Jakob Kudsk Steensen (artist, Berlin) in conversation with Daniel Birnbaum (director and curator, Acute Art, London), introduced and moderated by Cristina Baldacci (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Venice) and Valeria Facchin (producer and independent researcher, London). How can immersive technologies help us embrace a more resilient future?  This talk will explore the possibilities offered by immersive technologies in pre-/re- enacting endangered ecosystems and possible future scenarios taking as a starting point Jakob Kudsk Steensen’s practice and his 2017 VR work AquaphobiaLearn more

event October 13, 10:00 – 13.00

AQUAPHOBIA: FEAR OF WATER WORKSHOP
[private event, registered Anthropocene Campus Venice participants only]

Presentations by Mónica Bello (curator and head, Arts at CERN, Geneva), Jo Bowlby (shaman and spiritual coach, London), Libby Heaney (artist, scientist and lecturer, London), Jakob Kudsk Steensen (artist, Berlin), followed by a discussion and Q&A, introduced and moderated by Cristina Baldacci (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Venice) and Valeria Facchin (producer and independent researcher, London).

Through an interdisciplinary approach (artistic, scientific, psychological), this workshop aims to investigate the role of human empathy in tackling urgent climate issues. Departing from Steensen’s 2017 VR work Aquaphobia, guest speakers and participants in the workshop will explore how immersive technologies can help us become one with nature, and what are the limits and implications related to VR experiences. As the sea levels in Venice continue to rise, whose ‘fear of water’ should it be?  Learn more

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AQUAPHOBIA

Fear of Water
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As sea levels rise, Venice fights to stay above the waterline. How could the experience of becoming one with water help humans embrace a more resilient system of living?

The work gives the possibility to dwell on this issue thanks to a VR experience which takes the spectator on a mysterious journey into a semi subaqueous world.

The virtual environment where the journey takes place, leading from past subterranean mud tunnels to a bridge extending over future rising waters, echoes Louis Valentino Jr. Park and Pier in Redhook, Brooklyn – especially while the place was underwater during hurricane Sandy ​​– as well as landscapes from different eras, where roots, plants, and futuristic architectural elements symbiotically intertwine with one another.

— An online exhibition in collaboration with artist Jakob Kudsk Steensen and Black Shuck, curated by Cristina Baldacci and Valeria Facchin, featuring images by Anna Zemella. [research image: original 3D model of Louis Valentino Jr. Park and Pier in Redhook, Brooklyn; by Jakob Kudsk Steensen] As sea levels rise, Venice fights to stay above the waterline. How could the experience of becoming one with water help humans embrace a more resilient system of living?

The work gives the possibility to dwell on this issue thanks to a VR experience which takes the spectator on a mysterious journey into a semi subaqueous world.

The virtual environment where the journey takes place, leading from past subterranean mud tunnels to a bridge extending over future rising waters, echoes Louis Valentino Jr. Park and Pier in Redhook, Brooklyn – especially while the place was underwater during hurricane Sandy ​​– as well as landscapes from different eras, where roots, plants, and futuristic architectural elements symbiotically intertwine with one another.

event October 12, 11:30 – 13:00

SCREENING & ARTIST TALK
[opening event, public, live-streamed]

Jakob Kudsk Steensen (artist, Berlin) in conversation with Daniel Birnbaum (director and curator, Acute Art, London), introduced and moderated by Cristina Baldacci (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Venice) and Valeria Facchin (producer and independent researcher, London). How can immersive technologies help us embrace a more resilient future?  This talk will explore the possibilities offered by immersive technologies in pre-/re- enacting endangered ecosystems and possible future scenarios taking as a starting point Jakob Kudsk Steensen’s practice and his 2017 VR work Aquaphobia

Learn more

event October 13, 10:00 – 13.00

AQUAPHOBIA: FEAR OF WATER WORKSHOP
[private event, registered Anthropocene Campus Venice participants only]

Presentations by Mónica Bello (curator and head, Arts at CERN, Geneva), Jo Bowlby (shaman and spiritual coach, London), Libby Heaney (artist, scientist and lecturer, London), Jakob Kudsk Steensen (artist, Berlin), followed by a discussion and Q&A, introduced and moderated by Cristina Baldacci (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Venice) and Valeria Facchin (producer and independent researcher, London).

Through an interdisciplinary approach (artistic, scientific, psychological), this workshop aims to investigate the role of human empathy in tackling urgent climate issues. Departing from Steensen’s 2017 VR work Aquaphobia, guest speakers and participants in the workshop will explore how immersive technologies can help us become one with nature, and what are the limits and implications related to VR experiences. As the sea levels in Venice continue to rise, whose ‘fear of water’ should it be? 

Learn more

The disastrous effects of the high tide that flooded the city of Venice in November 2019 are a reminder of the responsibility that humans share for the rise in global temperatures and sea levels.

Anthropocene Campus Venice

AQUAPHOBIA

Jakob Kudsk Steensen
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[designed to be experienced through headphones]