“A system is not imagined, it is real.”65 Hans Haacke 1967 will make a different real from the systems of air, ice, and water on view; we are more likely to think about the hydrocarbons burning at a distant site to fuel Ice Stick, the global climate implied by Condensation (a.k.a. “Weather”) Cube, or the absurd inefficiencies of Artificial Rain and Transplanted Moss. Clearly, the ephemeral works’ titles were already shifting to emphasize the human agency behind “artificial” climates and “transplanted” biota; the full social turn was not far behind. If we can no longer sustain the earliest belief that the systems of Systems Art are “absolutely independent” of humans, we can still take up Haacke’s initial offer of an artworld space, time, and provocation to contemplate their unfolding.
-Caroline Jones on Hans Haacke 1967 at MIT
The Rhinewater Purification Plant entails a large, square glass tank. Adjacent from a large window, smaller rectangular and cylindrical tanks pump water from the the Rhine river, which is filled with the murky discharge of the Krefeld sewage plant, into the large, square glass tank via a small tube. The large, square glass tank is filled with goldfish. A clear tube comes out of the large, square tank into the wood floor. The water pumps through an additional water purification system to water the Museum Haus Lange gardens.
- A possibility for the artwork content is to highlight the effect that the sewage plant’s discharges have on the environment. Despite being treated enough to not pose any instantaneous harm, the discharges still play a role in the degradation of the water quality of the Rhine river.
- Another possibility for the artwork content is to raise awareness that our mere existence is our very own detriment. We seldom think to care for what carries us, lost in our journeys that consider every variable but never the backdrop it occurs in. Water is an incredibly crucial component of life, with our livelihood having a direct correlation to its presence and our ability to value it must be fostered in our beings like second nature.
Idiosyncrasy about the artist
He resists having his face photographed due to his firm belief that artists are often subjected to fetishization as personalities.