If water was no longer water…

The Berlin artist Margret Raspé (born 1933 in Wrocław/Breslau) has long been unknown even to most of the city’s art lovers. From February until May 2023, “Haus am Waldsee”, had dedicated a long due solo exhibition to her. Among her nature-media installations with honeycombs or the many subtle but clearly feminist video-works documenting an artist-housewife-mother’s daily routine, water stuck out as a theme to me.

Water has a quickly changing nature, is quickly changing nature. With its capacity to change its chemical state easily under human influence it has the power to become most pressure-ous as can be seen (again against the background of untensils from daily domestic work) in Raspé’s work “painting” cettles: “I was looking for a metaphor for pressure, crying out, and divestment condensed in the image,” she says about her 1984 work “Konsendsation”.

What draw my attention even more from a conceptual and traumatic contemporalities` point of view is her 1990 work on the Polish river Bzura. Raspé entered the contaminated water wearing a plain white shirt, hinting to various topoi of rivers and purity. When she came out, the white linen was no longer white. And hadn’t she put on vaseline all across her body she would have put herself into an alarming state of health.

Although the 2022 ecological catastrophy of the river Oder is not visible by just looking at the water but by the huge amounts of dead fish, her work “Wasser ist nicht mehr Wasser”/”Water is no longer water” is touching a current problem. After years of rather good news on renatured rivers and finally clean again natural waters, the wave of dying fish was hard on Polish and German people. Recriminations contaminated relations between the two countries, tourism (a vital source of income in the region) suffers strongly until today. And it was a catalyst to current fears that things are changing more quickly and beyond control than ever imaginable. Although Maragaret Raspé seems to walk off with lightness.


Margared Raspé

Wasser ist nicht mehr Wasser, 1990
Fotografien / photographs
Fotos / Photos: Dagmar Uhde