press release

For the duration of Simon Faithful’s installation Hertford Union, water from the Hertford Union Canal was pumped through clear tubes running through the rear wall of the gallery and through an intricate network of illuminated filter units. The water then flowed back out into the canal again.

The water entered the gallery from the canal, which runs behind the gallery, through a tube high on the gallery wall from a pump on the canal side behind the gallery, and exited through a hole at floor level. The filtering process consisted of eight towers each with three illuminated filter units. Over the course of the exhibition these units became living environments for various organisms and objects from the canal, deposited as the water circulated.

The gallery floor was strewn with vein-like tubes filled with the slowly purifying water from outside. In an analogous process to dialysis, the work started the impossible task of cleaning the water of the canal network within the clinical environment of the white-walled gallery space. The installation literally brought the outside world into the gallery; however, in such a rarefied space, this could only be done under clinical conditions: the water was channelled, controlled, purified and carefully inspected before being returned the tumbling chaos of the canal.


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Simon Faithfull: Hertford Union