Sanne Vaassen - Shaped by Water

Water is constantly in transition: it flows, evaporates, morphs, condenses, waves, falls down, meanders and stays in motion in many other ways. Throughout history humans have tended to move along with water to survive, on one hand in search of water and on the other moving away from it. Like other phenomena in a landscape, water is a navigator and greatly influences the location of human settlement.
I’ve been investigating the role of water as a navigator in the city and province of Utrecht by focusing on the transformation the water network underwent from 5500 BCE until the present day. I examined the transformation of rivers, streams
and lakes throughout history. What stood out were the changes in the landscape as a result from human interventions. Rather than consisting of curvy meandering flows, the rivers have been fixed into more or less straight lines. The routing of waters is determined by dikes, polders and the pumping of sand from the bottom of the sea onto its shores.

For the installation SHAPED BY WATER I have mimicked the rivers, lakes and streams surrounding the city of Utrecht by means of blown glass tubes. The tubes are connected by water which is flowing through and dripping from the glass. This water cycle portrays the transient features of a single droplet of water. The powerful abilities of a body of water, enabling it to shape a landscape with its force, are juxtaposed with human influence on the waterscape. Each level of the installation represents different periods in time of these waters.