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Society Diluted by Art

Mr. X, who up until now has been an unknown artist from Salzgitter in Germany, staged a major environment for his neighbors by leaving all the taps of the kitchen sink, bath tub and toilet of his apartment running non-stop for an entire year. The event became a live performance in October 2017 when he blocked the drains and let the water run freely and flood his building, possibly also entering the external environment of the street. The prospect of water flowing down the stairs and seeping through the ceiling of the apartment below, all created by Mr. X, must have been quite visually exciting, while also being an amazing show of ingenuity. The main actors of this art form were the residents of Mr X’s building and the policemen who intervened; the material he used was water.

The vision of the water must have been irresistible to Mr. X, overflowing from the kitchen sink with a lovely waterfall of cold water and even more strikingly from over the bathtub. The water, slowly traveling across the floor and soaking into his carpets, would have quickly given rise to various small objects and papers floating around his living space, or rather, display area. The water leaking under the door from his apartment to the stairway and elevator shaft must have been his “momento clou” (moment of glory) and surely also would have been when his neighbors finally became involved in the performance. They would not only have experienced the happening visually, but must have also had to have contact physically with the water invading these closed and unique art spaces. The aesthetic aspect of this installation is most certainly hard to resist, cascades of water falling in every direction, following its gravitational flow.

However damaging this event unfortunately was, it must have been quite spectacular, something many children often dream of doing, though only few dare to try. Have we before us an artist who is unaware of even being one? Perhaps we need to also blur the boundaries of what is recognized as an art form.
Though Mr. X had to be subdued by four police officers and covered with pepper spray to be removed to a psychiatric ward for evaluation, he has indeed created a live event. Considering the worldwide reviews he has received with his original installation, the £10,000 spent on water consumption, apart from the obvious waste of water, plus other unspecified damages to be paid for building repairs, is a small amount for so much publicity gained. No promotional efforts could have made a more powerful impact than what the media did for him for free in the news. It may, however, be his last and only performance.

NAE does not encourage this kind of installation art, nor support it in any form. At this writing, Mr. X’s real name has been withheld from the press.

Pendery Weekes in Germany

Volume 32 no 3 Jan/Feb 2018 p 31

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Claude Beaumont

The men in this video must be related to Mr. X in Salzgitter; how anyone can destroy a perfectly good house!



As a plumber and water artist, I can appreciate the pleasure that Mr. X must have felt when he starting flooding his apartment and also the rest of the building where he lived. I, too, must confess that I find indoor cascades of water quite spectacular and amazing mobile sculptures of water.

Karen Styles

What exactly is a water artist; could you give us a few details please? I hope you’re not just a flooder.

Bryan Townson

Leonardo da Vinci was also enthralled with water and its power, doing a series of drawings on floodings, called “deluges”. The inability to contain water as it overcomes its barriers is indeed fascinating, though potentially damaging, to say the least.

Dott. Giovanni de Santis

William Pye, British water sculptor, has done some interesting work with water.


Augusto Bennito

Sounds just like my son but he had an admiration for fire instead of water. He once put paint thinner in a iron thinking that he made a makeshift flame thrower.. I think Mr. X and my son should meet. Do any of you have any more information on Mr. X?

Claude Beaumont

Hi Augusto,

You should take your son to see Bill Viola’s work; he does something with fire too. Are you anywhere near Montreal?


Amy Richards

I seriously identified with this article, as one of my children had the passion of Mr. X. He loved nothing more than opening the washing machine door while operating, flushing towels down the toilet, flooding bathrooms of friends we visited, and also of somehow damaging the upstairs bathroom of a very posh restaurant in Lugano, leaving it to overflow down the stairs in a cascade of water – to my horror. Water was his specialty and passion. Fortunately he grew up into an apparently well mannered adult, though he has now become one wild daddy, a true candidate for performance… Read more »

Pendery Weekes

I’ve appreciated all your comments and especially the contribution from Chiara Campagnoni with the link to Bill Viola’s installation, “Expérience de l’infini” and from George Wiltshire who confessed “it’s something I’ve always wanted to do”.

George Wiltshire

Art of the absurd; however, I must confess, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.

Memory underpins Art.A process of embedding.

Jan Roberts

What do you mean by,”Memory underpins Art. A process of embedding.”?

Tammy Brookes

Derek Guthrie, could you explain this phrase please, as I find it incomprehensible.

Many thanks, from a dyslexic but artistic woman – I hope to understand.

Chiara Compagnoni

Great job, Mr. X! It reminds me of the installation by Bill Viola “Expérience de l’infini”, where he recreates a very similar situation, in which daily routine is diluted by this giant waterfall that explodes in a house left with its bath taps turned on. Here you can see the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07nY5dywIEI. It left me stunned when I saw this exhibition in Florence in summer 2017.

Dott. Giovanni de Santis

Bellissimo video! Who knows, maybe Mr. X traveled to Florence in 2017 and saw Bill Viola’s installation.

Claude Beaumont

Bill Viola has an exhibition ongoing now at the DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art in Montreal.

Eleonora Colombo

Amazing! It’s never too late to express ourselves through performances in our lives. This makes me think that as young children we all experience life as a performance. We try and show the world what our imagination can do, since we’re not too aware of how the world can restrict our actions. We all can potentially be artists, and Mr. X probably never forgot his ideas as a child.

Dott. Giovanni de Santis

How I would have liked to have seen the video of this “installation”, as I can only imagine the scene of water flowing and flowing. It made me think of how many of life’s events are actually live “installations”, some of which go on in our lives as flashbacks, continuing the visualizations over time.

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