Before the Water Comes




St. Petersburg



Throughout years, written artefacts create a chain of reflections of everyday realities. Archiving data through writing, we create a specific physical form of truth that, over time, increasingly becomes one of the primary reflections of the places where that form originated. Owing to this, a written text becomes a special form of knowledge whose perception is retained within the boundaries of its physical embodiment.

Our consciousness perceives this form and its boundaries the way as it is. But at the very moment of creation of a writing block, not only a physical form exists, but also a performative and a ritual form. At this moment it is yet fluxional in terms of information content; its perception is absolute, and the text still has certain freedom from the narrated content, possessing some inherent artistic form.


The possibility to observe the echoes of such flotation supposes a certain withdrawal from the physical form of the text. Such withdrawal makes it possible to observe the text as an archive, as a living process in which memory is intertwined with the everyday ritual of writing. In turn, this once-practiced ritual acquires now an inner movement. This movement is incited rather than fixed. What happens if a text acquires fluidity which will make its existence not autonomous, but coupled with its environment?





The classical archives of urban spaces assume a chronologically linear arrangement of written artefacts and, relatively, their orderly perception, depriving archival texts of their natural fluidity. This lack of flowability can be viewed in the analysis of water structures – although existing within the framework of urban spaces, but continuously changing. In this case, urban maps show only the local fixed reflections of mobile structures, thereby violating the source value of water as such. Exploring history through the lines left behind by multiple urban texts, we observe just reflections of the continuous movement of water. The rhythm inherent in a text reflecting the history of water gets intertwined with the rhythm of water, thereby depriving us of a possibility to separate one from the other.


Water, like text, is able to bring us back to some moment of memory, to return us to places where only the body knowledge and imagination exist. This kind of relationship gives birth to texts, day by day, which become a flow that acquires a certain corporeality through multiple rituals – the above, possibly, can set the narrative free from its fixed form, bringing us to some new form of bodily perception through the flows of water, through the flows of text.

soundscape play →

The spatial sound object Before the Water Comes tells its own story of the place through water contemplation, by turning the archival cartography of a water flow as a reflection of memory born and erased with every new fluctuation of the sea.



The main element serving the core of the object is a script corpus (currently 56 rice-writing surfaces), which forms an archival stream and thus generates spaces - distances within itself, which in turn engender new different paths. The object is an entity where some data of the past are interwoven, which can be identified only through personal acquaintance and immersion in that place. They are sort of wrenched out of their historical context, acquiring own independence; they become real only in a situation when someone addresses these data in the effort to recognize his / her own water.



The heart of the object is a city known as a submerged city. This is a city where water constantly reminds one of itself. I wanted to create a walk through my personal history and through the story of merger of two rivers; it was to be a downward relocation across numerous layers of water, an immersion through listening and writing into my own relocation within the water. I have been creating a personal archive that moves us from one time period to another, thus opening a fluctuant data space where the writing ritual synchronises with archival sources, diaries, maps and translates information through the rhythms around us. I use rice as a writing tool and a common tool unifying the material that carries information about the author of a written record in terms of place and the involved water. The language used is the universal Braille language which loses its meaning as soon as the rice gets dissolved, leaving just a trace capable to change the direction of the narrative. This kind of writing goes through many stages of transmission and translation, which eventually brings each of us back to our own initial water level.