H₂O / 2H₂O


16.08- 15.09.2019

What attracted us to the proposal for exhibition in the Water Tower was the non-standard space, so we decided not just to put our works in it, but to bring back to the womb of the Tower the idea and thoughts of water – a source of life and death and to focus rather on the latter.

To invite the audience to this strange, almost mystical place for dialogue with themselves and in themselves. 

So we started working on a site-specific installation following this idea and developing it in this architectural environment. Reflections on the forms and manifestations of water, its hidden and apparent power and their visualization.

Upon entering, the viewer is immersed in steam / smoke, which hides the integrity of the space. At the beginning, the sound is leading them. 

The sound, as well as the entire installation, is based on the principle of repetition that is often observed in our common works. 

A 3D image of the water molecule outlines in the smoke.

In the twilight of the second level, two large crystal vases are installed, in each of which through video projection emerges the image of each of the authors, taking a breath of air before sinking back to the crystal bottom. The sound of taking the saving breath tears the space apart.

A water column is poured into the part enclosed by the winding staircase of the Tower. The stream is powerful, murky, dragging debris.

Climbing the spiral around the pouring water mass, the viewer reaches the last level where, through a system of mirrors, the walls and ceiling are studded with gleams reminding of a water surface where the formula of heavy water is read – 2H2O. It has a similar appearance as ordinary water – H2O- and has the same chemical properties, but this slight difference at first glance, which increases the weight of the molecule, results in enormous qualitative changes, making it an important element in producing a nuclear explosion.

Sound is an integral part of the perception of the installation. 

The main theme is structured on the principle of repetitive, multi-layered melody. It welcomes the attendees when they enter the gallery and accompanies them all the time. Depending on the positioning of the viewer, the two sounds superimpose on the main theme – one of the painful breath intake and the other of the rumble of the falling water.



In the exhibition H20 / 2H20, Nina Kovacheva and Valentin Stefanov created a special space dedicated to water as a source of life and death. The site-specific installation at Gallery + 359 was designed for the Water Tower in Lozenets – a building intended to accommodate a huge but already empty water tank. The water molecule H2O is an important inorganic ingredient of all organisms; without it life is unthinkable, and the fact that it is at the heart of living nature is one of the most important proofs of our uniform origin. Therefore, the most widespread human understanding of water is associated with its definition as a ‘source of life’, and its various incarnations, forms, colors, sounds of its movement in nature, are associated with positive emotions, health, purity and are the basis of various practices of meditation for self-awareness.

The second part of the title H20 / 2H20 refers to the so-called heavy water, which is seemingly similar to H20, even has similar chemical properties, but has a molecular weight higher than ordinary water and specific physical properties. Heavy water is used as a neutron retardant in nuclear reactions not only in nuclear power plants but also in the production of atomic bombs. The project title synthesizes the invisible essence of nature, which cannot be uniquely described in the card-index of clichéd human notions of the reality we inhabit. The field of collision of H20 with 2H20 is the Water Tower and the result is the water vapor where architectural forms, visual details, the distance between the past, present and future, as well as the attempt to outline a clear framework in the names of things, lose their explicitness and density, and only the rumble of falling water alternating with the sound of the painful taking of a breath of air remain. The viewer walks up the stairs winding around the walls of the tower, crossing the symbolic line between life and death, to reach the reflective sheen of the familiar image of water where the formula of one of the elements contribute to the chain reaction resulting in an atomic explosion is read. The environment created in this way, physically outlines the intellectual paradox that, before we begin to understand the natural world and the place of man therein, we must make an explosive intervention at our own borders and release the power of thought locked in simplified models of ready-made stereotypes from everyday life.

Irina Batkova