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LET THE RIVER DRAW AGAIN // Antonio José García Cano


I am from a little village in Region of Murcia in the South East of Spain which is called Rincón de Beniscornia. This is an Arabic name meaning “those who live in the corner”, referring to a big meander of the Segura River where the village used to be. However, the stream was highly modified to avoid floods. It was straightened and channelized which had a big impact on the ecology of the place. I have been living in Tacoma since September 2016. First thing I saw from the plane when I was going to land was the Salish Sea and the flowing waters of several rivers shining in the evening. After that, I was very interested in the Puyallup River and I started to learn about it. I learnt that downstream it had been strongly modified, that the tideflats had been destroyed, and that Climate Change is going to affect it. I also learnt that the Puyallup Tribe had been able to live sustainably with it during thousands of years. This exhibition is part of an on-going process of learning about the river and its memory. It is also a reflection about our relationship with its dynamic and about how it could be different in the future. 


The river knows the place, explores it constantly and draws beautiful meanders. The water erodes and deposits sediments generating different habitats that promote biodiversity. Its time scale is much longer that ours so we have difficulties to see its movement and to understand it as a living organism in a persistent dialogue with the banks, floodplains, underground water, sea, atmosphere, plants, animals and human community. In many places in the world, rivers have been constrained by flood control works and its memory has been erased and also the memory of those who have lived next to it along centuries. Let us move from a philosophy of controlling the floods to one of coexisting with the waters. Let us withdraw from the lands of the river and learn from its complexity. I wonder how art may contribute to understand the river as a link between communities, and as an opportunity to promote life and resilience to face Climate Change.


Antonio José García Cano is an artist and researcher interested in the relationship between art and ecology. He studies how art can contribute to the improvement of our current ecological situation. He believes in art that learns from other disciplines and from the complexity of reality. He is especially interested in water and its fluvial dynamics. He has completed a PhD in ecological art that is concerned with the consequences of Climate Change on water ecosystems.

In addition, he is interested in art that learns from ecological memory because access to the memory of the places we inhabit often generates attachment to them. As a result, hopefully, that attachment translates into greater environmental responsibility. He explores this opportunity in his artistic initiatives Azarbón (2009) and Proyecto Iskurna (2010-2014).

He is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Washington-Tacoma (USA) where he works and learns with the Professors and eco-artists Beverly Naidus, Vaughn Bell and Elizabeth Conner. This stay is possible because he has been awarded with the Fulbright Scholarship for artists (Sept. 2016-Sept. 2017).