Felicitas Grabner & Vera Niess

Valbona River, a river in the Albanian alps


2023
Cyanotype prints, glass sculptures

In a 1930s National Geographic journal entry about Albania, water is boldly proclaimed as a form of regional wealth, raising concerns about its potential commodification and economic exploitation. Felicitas Grabner firmly believes that this valuable resource should remain in the hands of the local people to prevent its speculative treatment by foreign investors seeking profit. As an experienced kayaker, she intimately understands the unique character of each waterway she traverses worldwide and recognizes the intrinsic value of water to inspire awe and reverence. Grabner captures and preserves the essence of remarkable rivers by employing artistic mediums such as cyanotype, analog photography and collecting objects from riverbanks. Collaborating with glass artist Vera Niess, they jointly explore the fluidity and shape of water, creating distinctive glass sculptures that portray the essence of individual rivers. Incorporated into their artistic endeavors, these sculptures enhance the visual representation of water's captivating forms. Through these creative endeavors, Grabner aims to evoke a sense of appreciation and connection to the vast beauty of water, highlighting its significance beyond mere economic considerations.

Unfortunately, water commodification poses a significant threat, particularly in countries like Albania, where Grabner resides. Many rivers in the region face imminent danger from large-scale hydropower projects that prioritize economic gain at the expense of fragile ecosystems and the well-being of local communities. The commodification of water through such projects often leads to irreversible damage and unforeseen long-term consequences. Safeguarding water from commercialization is crucial to preserving its significance and maintaining the delicate balance of ecosystems and communities.


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