S4W Open Call Challenge

Water Capitalism

Host / Region

LUCA School of Arts in collaboration with
GLUON and presentation of the results at
STARTS partner BOZAR/ Flanders


The purpose of this residency is to design a model of aquatic ownership based on trust, transparency and accountability.


water scarcity, the commodification of water, blockchain, nature cultures, social equity

Description of the regional challenge

Water is arguably the most precious resource on Earth. Yet the way in which we value and manage it is often extremely poor, and has triggered exponential increases in water pollution, the depletion of fish stocks and the threat of extinction for certain species. There is growing awareness that more sustainable water management is necessary and that governments, companies, farmers and citizens need to radically shift their attitudes. Such a shift must be based on the true value of water, something which is far broader than mere descriptions of its utilitarian value based on cost-benefit analysis. Thus humanistic, moral, emotional, aesthetic and ethical values should also be taken into account. “How much do we value a walk along the river, the possibility of diving into its clean waters or the chance to play an active role in safeguarding biodiversity?” The value of water is difficult to quantify because different publics conceptualise and describe its values differently. What if we allowed people to buy and sell water rights? Could capitalism be a viable solution? We see the residency as a catalyst for Target 6.5: Implement integrated water resources management and Target 6.b: Support stakeholder participation.

Region information

Flanders is a water-stressed region where the balance between water management, rural development, and urbanisation is under strain. As a result of global warming, Flanders is experiencing more extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain showers, greater volumes of water in a single event and more flooding. At the same time, these are accompanied by dry periods with an increased danger of water shortages. This has earned it a position in the “high water stress” category on a list that maps water shortage regions worldwide.

How is the mission S+T+ARTS driven?

A highly collaborative residency combining expertise in water management, philosophy, blockchain technology etc., working towards a more sustainable, inclusive and value driven water management. This collaboration will lead to a speculative and explorative artwork and/or a functional prototype for the water industry. 

The result of the residency will be shown in Bozar – Centre for Fine Arts (Brussels) as STARTS partner, during the STARTS4Water exhibition in Fall 2022.

Residency support network