A River Waits Reply

October 13–November 30, 2020

A screening series developed in partnership between seven international arts organizations, A River Waits Reply presents moving-image works from around the world as a poetic reply to this unprecedented year. It is a year that has invited new forms of exchange at a distance, and a long-overdue reckoning with deep social and political inequity that calls for new forms of solidarity. All seven institutions will simultaneously host each video on their websites for the duration of one week, with the series as a whole extending over seven weeks in total. Each work has been selected by a partner organization as a response to the videos that preceded it, producing a cascading sequence and a winding river of thought, interpreted through the aesthetic and social values of their respective cultural context.

The title of the series is borrowed from a poem by Emily Dickinson.

Blue sea, wilt welcome me?

My river waits reply.
Oh sea, look graciously!

I’ll fetch thee brooks
From spotted nooks,—  

Say, sea,
Take me!

—Emily Dickinson, My river runs to thee

Artists in order of appearance

  • Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz
  • Ria Pacquée
  • Miguel Calderón
  • Beatriz Santiago Muñoz
  • David Hartt
  • Martha Atienza
  • Pooja Gurung & Bibhusan Basnet


The Republic by David Hartt has been selected by independent curator Daisy Desrosiers on behalf of MOCA Toronto. This work will be featured on the websites of all seven institutions from November 17–21. Hartt was born in 1967 in Montreal, Canada, and lives and works in Philadelphia, USA. The work will be shown courtesy of the artist, David Nolan Gallery, Corbett vs. Dempsey and Galerie Thomas Schulte.

Ria Pacquée
As long as I see birds flying I know I am alive
October 20–25

Ria Pacquée, As long as I see birds flying I know I am alive, 2015, video, 14′03″.

*Please be advised that this artwork contains graphic scenes involving animals that some viewers may find disturbing.

Watching Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz’s powerful video, we were struck by its layered references to dissent, protest, and resistance. Its setting in public space is particularly notable in these times of domestic lockdown and isolation. Public space, with its implied openness and promise of dynamic interactions, has oftentimes been denied us in the past year. Yet despite these limitations, various forms of protest and collective gathering have occurred in the streets across the globe. Thinking about these sites has led us to a more poetic use of public space in the work of Ria Pacquée, a Belgian artist from the ARGOS collection, who explores public life as a dynamic construction through which identities are shaped.

In As long as I see birds flying I know I am alive, Pacquée assembles recordings predominantly made in public spaces in Paris, Kathmandu, Athens, Istanbul, Bruges, New York, Varanasi and Antwerp. By juxtaposing images of the sacred with those of a worldly nature, she undercuts the anthropological and scientific potential of her material – a disorienting strategy often used by the artist elsewhere. Two recurring elements, clouds of drifting smoke and prowling birds, evoke a dreamlike and looming atmosphere which makes even the most common gesture appear like being part of an age-old ritual, detaching these motifs from the geocultural realms they belong to.

Selected by ARGOS

Ria Pacquée (b. Belgium) is an Antwerp-based artist.

Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz
October 13–18

Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz, Silent, 2017, HD video, 7′00″.

During this year of isolation our productive energy has been stifled, our motivation repressed by the pandemic, and simultaneously we’ve heard the call to protest, to voice our discontent, to demand justice. This tension drew us to Silent (2017) by Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz as it reflects silence as a form of protest, a denial-of-service as resistance, but also a suppression of the freedom to speak, the hand covering the mouth of the oppressed.

Musician Aérea Negrot’s rendition of John Cage’s iconic score 4’33” as she stands in front of a forest of microphones, as if for a press conference, amplifies the sense of anticipation and evokes silence as a form of civil disobedience in political arenas. The stage is set on Oranienplatz in Berlin, where a refugee protest camp took place between 2012 and 2014.

This performance is followed by a song composed for the film. In both we recognize an urge to challenge the normalization apparent in unspoken (but deeply felt) forms of bias and bigotry. The artists are seeking the point of contact between the defiant act of silence, and the act of breaking the silence, as representative of emergent forms of political dissent, but also the power of vulnerability and unapologetic desire.

Selected by KADIST

Pauline Boudry (b. Switzerland) and Renate Lorenz (b. Germany) have worked together since 2007. They live and work in Berlin.