Water - Dust, a collaboration between Alice F. Hill, a physical geographer, hydrologist and post-doctoral student at the National Snow & Ice Data Center, and Toma Peiu, a visual artist, ethnographer and media scholar, and a doctoral student in the Department of Critical Media Practices, is among the three projects awarded full funding as a part of the 2018 Graduate Fellowship Program run by NEST (Nature, Environment, Science and Technology) Studio for the Arts at the University of Colorado Boulder.
The Fellowship, now in its inaugural session, will support a joint research / art output between Hill, Peiu and their collaborators, building on distinct strands of research based in the Aral Sea basin of Central Asia. Policies triggered in the 1960s have transformed the Aral Sea - previously, one of the world’s largest endorheic lakes, into a toxic desert. Dozens of towns and villages abandoned when water from the main contributing rivers Syr Darya and Amu Darya was diverted for large scale cotton and rice farming upstream, across Central Asia. With this project, we intend to look at effects of climate change and political action on the transformation of urban landscape in former fishing or agricultural communities – and, implicitly, on the disruption of individual livelihoods. Water vulnerability and economic precariousness force migration, which shapes the face of urban spaces, rendering neighborhoods, harbors, schools, or markets devoid of their previous utility, while the displaced population carves out new spaces elsewhere in the region or beyond - in world metropoles as far as Moscow or New York.
Nature, Environment, Science & Technology (NEST) Studio for the Arts is a network of faculty, students, centers, and campus units that combine artistic practice and scientific research to explore our common and disparate ways of observing, recording, experimenting, and knowing. A series of cross-campus initiatives allow students to directly engage with faculty mentors and inspire alternate modes of communicating with the larger public.
The full list of fellowships may be consulted here.