Estuary Xandra van der Eijk


In this work, we see four tube sculptures filled with algae from the Eastern Scheldt (Oosterschelde) area. Estuaries are the meeting points of freshwater and seawater. They’re rich with nutrients and provide special conditions for unique species to flourish. However, these areas are very much influenced by the tensions of overpopulation—a clash that’s metaphorically simulated in this work.
An estuary forces saline and freshwater fluids together in a closed system. As salt-water algae within battle decay due to their hostile environment, plentiful fresh-water life springs from its forced death. What’s visible is the colourful behaviour of living organisms struggling to manage a situation orchestrated by human hands. The circle of life unfolds over time, and the process can be tracked through the change of colour. First, the algae decay dissolves its pigments in the water. Over a period of a week, the water colours from light pink to intense fluorescent red and pink shades. As the nutrients are being consumed by bacteria, their colonies bloom, which changes the colour of each column separately depending on the algae type inside and the accidental presence and the battle of survival of the bacteria. In another two-weeks time, colours change from pink to green, blue, and even black. Eventually, after about four weeks, all nutrients are consumed and the human-made ecosystem turns into a low-oxygen zone in which no life is possible.