Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New Walk Ways for New Bell –
Faces of Water

Tuesday, 30 November, Kamiel Verschuren started the project New Walk Ways in New Bell – Faces of Water in Douala. The idea for this project came to his mind during a visit to the quarter New Bell in February 2010.

In New Bell and other quarters of Douala, the sewers alongside the streets are completely open and therefore filled with wandering garbage from the streets. The covers on the open sewers, whether they are made from wooden planks or concrete elements, have often been taken away, burned as fuel wood, or are just damaged by usage. They have not been replaced. In the rainy season, this non-functioning draining system often causes huge floods, and affects public health seriously. In the rainy season, the garbage that causes the sewer system to be clogged, rises together with the water level, allowing the water from the sewers to spread into the streets and into the houses, and allowing the water to mix with the fresh water resources.

On the New Walk Ways, large scale text fragments will be made, using black spray paint. To allow the rain to enter the sewer system but to prevent the garbage from entering it, small holes are drilled in the planks re-writing the texts fragments and making them durable. The collection of text fragments relate to the different Faces of Water, to its qualities as a substance, solid, liquid or gas, to its movement, to its reflective nature and its ability to follow any shape that contains it and still be of immense force.
Kamiel Verschuren will re-install about 1 kilometer of coverage on the open sewer system. The intention is not to make a sculpture or artistic object in front of someone’s doorstep, but to address the sense of collectivity in this neighborhood. This week, the first 100 meters of the new walk ways will be finished. In 2011, the next 900 meters will be made.

The work is realized with the help of four young people living in the neighborhood. Every now and then, passers-by spontaneously stop to help or just to have a very thorough look at the work. On the first day of work, many people living in the neighborhood expressed their appreciation. They felt the necessity of the new walk ways very strongly. “L’eau, c’est le sanité”, as an old lady commented: water is sanitation. Still people were throwing in garbage while the work on the system was in progress. For mentality to change, one needs more time and effort, but it is hoped this is a start in changing the way of thinking about water in the city. The expectation is that after some time people will start to feel their responsibility and will take control over their own conditions and act individually as well as collectively to improve their situation.

New Walk Ways in New Bell will be presented in New Bell during the SUD2010, on Thursday 9 December.

On the same day, the work of artists who also have been working in New Bell will be presented, i.e. Pascale Marthine Tayou, Loris Cecchini, Hervé Yamguen, Ato Malinda, and Tracey Rose.

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