Since men cultivate the land, rivalries over water are a source of disputes. The concept is expressed directly in the English language rivalry from the Latin rivalis, meaning the one who uses the same river as the other.

It was around 2600 BC in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) that the first known water war took place. The city-states of Umma and of Lagash (of which Girsu is the religious capital) fought for centuries over the exploitation of irrigation canals fed by the Tigris.

Today, many factors fuel fears of a ‘new water war’ on the very location of the destruction of the ancient city of Girsu. Power games between the different communities, the civil war in Syria, the presence of the Islamic State, but also the fact that the majority of the dams that control the flow of the Tigris and Euphrates are located in combat zones, are all factors of instability and tension. Coupled with – despite of the war – high population growth, the increasing scarcity of water resources in the region and global warming, a new water war is almost inevitable.

Last Water War – Ruins of a Future presents a series of photographs taken on the archaeological site of Girsu (Iraq) by Émeric Lhuisset. Through the ruin, the architectural object sculpted by time, positioned at the crossroads of past, present and future, the artist is questioning the future.

Authors

Émeric Lhuisset (1983, FR) holds degrees in both visual arts (École des Beaux-Arts, Paris) and geopolitics (Université Panthéon-Sorbonne / ENS Ulm). As a photographer Lhuisset combines geopolitics with art by raising questions about the representation of conflicts. His projects took him for instance to Syria, Afghanistan, Colombia and Iraq. His work has been featured at the Running Horse Contemporary Art Space in Beirut (LB), FRAC Alsace (FR) and Tate Modern (UK) amongst others. Lhuisset currently teaches at the Institute of Political Studies of Paris (Sciences Po).

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© Émeric Lhuisset, from the series: The Last Water War, untitled, 2015
© Émeric Lhuisset, from the series: The Last Water War, untitled, 2015
The Last Water War
The Last Water War
© Émeric Lhuisset
The Last Water War
The Last Water War
© Émeric Lhuisset
The Last Water War
The Last Water War
© Émeric Lhuisset
The Last Water War
The Last Water War
© Émeric Lhuisset
The Last Water War
The Last Water War
© Émeric Lhuisset
The Last Water War
The Last Water War
© Émeric Lhuisset
The Last Water War
The Last Water War
© Émeric Lhuisset
The Last Water War
The Last Water War
© Émeric Lhuisset
The Last Water War
The Last Water War
© Émeric Lhuisset
Installation shot 'The Last Water War', Institut du monde arabe
Installation shot 'The Last Water War', Institut du monde arabe
Opening of 'Last Water War', Institut du monde arabe, Paris
Opening of 'Last Water War', Institut du monde arabe, Paris
Opening of 'The Last Water War', Institut du monde arabe, Paris
Opening of 'The Last Water War', Institut du monde arabe, Paris
Émeric Lhuisset in front of one of the photos
Émeric Lhuisset in front of one of the photos
Installation 'The Last Water War', Institut du monde arabe, Paris
Installation 'The Last Water War', Institut du monde arabe, Paris
Opening 'The Last Water War', Institut du monde arabe, Paris
Opening 'The Last Water War', Institut du monde arabe, Paris
Installation shot 'The Last Water War', Institut du monde arabe
Installation shot 'The Last Water War', Institut du monde arabe
Installation shot 'The Last Water War', Institut du monde arabe
Installation shot 'The Last Water War', Institut du monde arabe
L'Institut du monde arabe
L'Institut du monde arabe
Preview The Last Water War, Sursock Museum, Beirut (LB) as part of the group exhibition ‘Let’s Talk About the Weather: Art and Ecology in a Time of Crisis’.
Preview The Last Water War, Sursock Museum, Beirut (LB) as part of the group exhibition ‘Let’s Talk About the Weather: Art and Ecology in a Time of Crisis’.
© Émeric Lhuisset

Exhibition

The exhibition contains an installation with large format framed photographs, taken with a drone. The images, fascinating and terrifying at the same tame, give the viewer a feeling of travelling through art history, from the Renaissance to the Romantic Period. In September 2016, the installation was on show for the very first time in Institut du monde arabe, Paris (FR).

  • 28.04.201701.05.2017What's Up Photo Doc, Paris, France

    02.11.201623.01.2017Part of group show 'History Begins in Mesopotamia' at Louvre Lens, France

    29.09.201604.12.2016Institut du monde Arabe, Paris, France

    14.07.201618.10.2016Sursock Museum, Beirut, Lebanon

  • Installation with large format framed photographs, documentation of poster campaign in public space in the Middle East.

Publication 'The Last Water War' (2016)
Publication 'The Last Water War' (2016)

Book

The book Last Water War – Ruins of a Future has been conceptualised as an art object but also as an object of scientific research. It is divided into four parts including four maps. Each part deals with a specific approach on the archeological site and water wars, written by several researchers and journalists. Jack Lang, former French Minister of Culture, wrote the introduction and other texts.

Geopolitical approach: Allan Kaval, independent journalist (Le Monde, Nonfiction.fr)
Climatic approach: Julia Marton-Lefèvre (environment and sustainability expert, former Director General of IUCN), Sarah Hassan
Historical Approach: Dr. Ariane Thomas (curator Mesopotamian collections Louvre)
Critical view: Philippe Dagen (professor and art critic)

Buy
  • Title: Last Water War, Ruins Of a Future
    Photography: Emeric Lhuisset
    Text: Jack Lang
    Language: English
    Date: 2016
    Publisher: Paradox
    Co-Publisher: André Frère Éditions
    Cover: Softcover
    Size: 165 x 220 mm, including 4 maps – size opened 600 x 800 mm
    ISBN: 979-10-92265-48-4

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In the media

  • Emeric Lhuisset: les ruines, loin des clichés

    Inès Daif, Le Figaro, 13 October 2016 Read more »
  • Constructive and Creative Approaches to Talking About the Weather

    Kirsten O'Regan, HyperAllergic, 13 oktober 2016 Read more »
  • Emeric Lhuisset, lanceur d’alerte

    Marie-Laure Desjardins, ArtsHebdo, 5 October 2016 Read more »

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